Opinion Former Article

FSB calls for more support on public sector contracts

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is today calling on an influential review to implement proposals to ensure small businesses win at least 30 per cent of all public sector contracts.

Responding to a government push to improve small firm's access to public contracts, the FSB today told the Glover Review on the Role of SMEs in Public Procurement that it welcomes the target for SMEs to win 30 per cent of all public sector contracts, but urges that the target is specifically aimed at the micro end of the SME scale.

The FSB is calling on the Glover Review to ensure micro businesses benefit by speedily implementing the following proposals:

Guarantee all small businesses have a minimum of three weeks for a tender response;
Ensure local authorities hold tender briefing meetings with local micro businesses; and
Allow small businesses to complete a Pre-Qualifying Questionnaire (PQQ) only once.

Clive Davenport, FSB trade and industry chairman, said:

"The FSB believes that with a target in place, efforts can be implemented to achieving the goal, rather than discussing whether there should be one. Small businesses offer great value to communities and by using small businesses, money is kept in the local economy.

"We are pleased that the government is investigating small businesses and procurement. What we would like to see now, is targets to be implemented to ensure small businesses win public sector contracts and reduce the barriers small businesses face."

Other proposals put forward by the FSB to the Glover Review include:

- Larger contracts should be broken into smaller lots;

- Local authorities should give greater focus to the benefits of creating micro business consortia;

- More training for procurement officers in relation to engaging with micro businesses in the tendering process; and

- Making it mandatory for all local authorities to sign up to the Cabinet Office Small Business Friendly Concordat.

Ends

Notes to Editors:

In the 2008 budget, the government included a provision to investigate a practicality for setting a target for SMEs to win over 30 per cent of public service contracts. The Glover Review has been leading an enquiry into the barriers faced by small businesses in winning public sector contracts. The review is to report jointly to the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in time for the Pre-Budget Report.

Micro businesses are those with 0-9 employees; small businesses are those with 10-49 employees; medium sized businesses are those with 50-249 employees. The FSB is convinced that the Glover Review proposals should be aimed at the micro business sector.

The FSB is Britain's biggest business organisation with over 215,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the self-employed, and all those who run their own business. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk

Contacts:

Stephen Alambritis: 020 7592 8112 / 07788 422155
Prue Watson: 020 7592 8121 / 07825 125 695
Marc Shoffman: 020 7592 8113 / 07595 067068

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