Procurement is coming out to bat for SMEs!
£230 billion per year is spent on goods and services across the whole public sector. Public sector procurement has the potential to generate significant business and growth opportunities for SMEs.
For a small company, winning even a small share of this market could transform its fortunes. The draft Public Contracts Regulations 2015 contain some quick wins for SMEs:
Contracting authorities will be obliged to advertise below- threshold procurements on Contracts Finder in England. This will improve access for SMEs to information about available contracts with the intention that contracting authorities should receive more tenders from SMEs. Although it has not yet been decided if this requirement will become mandatory in Wales, it is more than likely that the current practice adopted in Wales to advertise below-threshold procurements on Sell2Wales will continue;
- The turnover cap has been specifically introduced to facilitate SME participation in procurement. Contracting authorities will not be able to specify that economic operators have turnovers of more than twice the estimated contract value, except in duly justified cases by reference to special risks attached to the nature of the works, services or supplies;
- Information required from tenderers at selection has been massively simplified. The new European Single Procurement Document (the “ESPD”) allows tenderers to self-certify their compliance with selection criteria which greatly reduces the burden on SMEs and the ESPD can be re-used provided the information is still correct at the date of issue of the ESPD;
- Of real benefit to SMEs is the flexibility to form a group of collaborators to pitch for a tender without incorporating a legal entity or forming a joint venture. Clearly this is aimed at encouraging greater collaboration among SMEs as a way to opening up further procurement opportunities.
Adding another facet to their strategy on promoting opportunities for SMEs, the Cabinet Office is currently consulting on proposed reforms to public procurement in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill (the “Bill”). Responses to the consultation are invited by 13 November 2014. The Bill includes a clause aimed at giving the government power to implement further measures relating to public procurement in the future.
The public procurement powers will be used to ensure that barriers for SMEs are removed and that they have greater opportunities to grow. The Government hopes to use powers under this Bill to create a simple and consistent approach to procurement across the public sector. The consultation seeks views on how these powers could be used most effectively.
Follow this link to find the draft Regulations and consultation document.