"We know that small businesses can be highly innovative and have the expertise we need to secure more value for the public sector. That's why Government is changing the way it does business to open up public sector procurement to more small businesses. Already, 26% of government spend flows directly and indirectly to small businesses and by 2020, this is set to rise to 33%."
- Sally Collier, CEO of Crown Commercial Service (November, 2015)
To better understand the views of SMEs operating in the public sector tech market, techUK has undertaken a comprehensive survey to capture their experience on the ground. This report is based on the views of 171 SMEs and sets out a small number of clear recommendations which we urge the Government to act on now.
Collectively, we have an opportunity to build on the good work of the last five years, and deliver the innovation and transformation that Government is looking for whilst also helping dynamic British based SMEs to scale and grow.
Our survey confirms that the Government is on the right track, but that more needs to be done. There is overwhelming support for the Government's new target to award 33% of procurement spend, both directly and indirectly, to SMEs, with 90% of respondents supporting the new target.
The survey provided a fascinating insight into a small business's view of the public sector tech market.
- G-Cloud has been particularly well received by smaller suppliers. 80% said it had helped them access the market. However, the survey highlights there is more to do if Government is to meet its target of 33% of procurement spend going to SMEs.
- There is widespread concern that public sector commissioners are not making sufficient use of all the tools at their disposal. 86% of SMEs said that civil servants need to make more of the Digital Marketplace, and there was a lack of awareness of the initiatives such as Mystery Shopper and Contracts Finder, that are directly aimed at the SME market.
- Skills and culture remain a barrier to adoption. 96% of respondents did not think that civil servant buyers have a good understanding of how SMEs can meet their needs. This echoes techUK's own civil servants survey , commissioned earlier this year, which showed 33% civil servants were uncertain about working with SMEs.
- Surprisingly, late payments was ranked of least concern as a barrier to entry, despite government focus in this area. Instead, SMEs clearly called for initiatives to target the onerous procurement process (67%), risk averse culture (59%) and onerous terms and conditions (33%).
Commenting on the report, Naureen Khan, Associate Director – Public Sector at techUK said:
"The UK is benefiting from a new wave of tech entrepreneurship and there are now more opportunities than ever before for small and growing firms to access the Government's billion pound public sector procurement market. Our survey confirms Government is on the right track. SME's are overwhelmingly positive about the Government's new target and G-Cloud is the clear 'star of the show. However, there is more work to be done. The next phase needs to focus on raising awareness and use of important tools such as G-Cloud, Contracts Finder and Mystery Shopper. Government and industry need to work together to enable and support better collaboration through the supply chain."
This report is being launched as part of techUK's SME Week, find out more about the week and how you can get involved here.
Follow the debate on social media with #BreakingTheBarriers. If you would like to find out more about our findings, please get in touch.