Failing to publish procurement stats leaves small firms wondering if they’re a priority
By Bethany Winter | 3rd August 2023
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on the Government to end months of secrecy over how much taxpayers' money is being given to small businesses compared to large corporates in public sector contracts.
The Government has previously committed to a target of at least one third of taxpayer-funded contracts to go to smaller UK firms - which often offer better value for money - and to publish regular updates on progress towards that.
But the latest public procurement figures, originally due in May, still haven't been released.
Martin McTague, national chair of FSB said: "It's disappointing that the Government has not yet released its procurement figures, even though they were due to be published in May. This delay could weaken our economy. They should not be left wondering and waiting for the Government to deliver on its promises.
"Procurement statistics are a critical compass, indicating the level of Government engagement with the small business sector and its supply chain.
"The Government has yet to achieve its target of one-third of all procurement spending reaching SMEs. Meeting procurement targets isn't just a bureaucratic milestone - it's an affirmation of trust in our small business community.
"The Government is showing promise with the Procurement Bill, helping small businesses looking to tap into public procurement, setting the tone for a fairer and more accessible process. It's reassuring to see the Government prioritise late payments by reaffirming 30-day payment terms to small suppliers. We're also pleased to see the Bill relaxing accounting and insurance requirements before contracts are awarded, offering alternative methods for them to prove their resilience.
"There is still work to be done, however, and FSB is looking forward to working with the Government on affirming 30-day payment terms throughout supply chains and reversing the decision to scrap de-brief letters for unsuccessful bidders. Transparency should be non-negotiable, whether that means giving bidders feedback on why their bid failed, or publishing stats on the Government's procurement target.
"The Government should urgently release its performance on SME spending without further delay to help strengthen that entrepreneurial culture that keeps our economy dynamic and thriving."
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