Small firms ‘losing out in work bids’
SMALL firms are losing the battle to win public sector work, despite the Government’s efforts to make it easier.
That’s the verdict of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) whose latest survey shows 40 per cent of small firms believe the tendering process for public sector contracts is too complex, while 37 per cent think they are sidelined by public officials who believe bigger firms must be better.
And according to the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, it’s a problem of many years standing that has not been resolved.
The FSB findings come despite the Government’s launch of its Contracts Finder website, designed to make it easier for small firms to find and bid for public sector work.
Commenting on the survey, Amir Butt, Peterborough branch vice-chairman, FSB, said: “The Government has made an effort to raise awareness in the public sector that Britain’s entrepreneurs and small businesses are willing and able business partners.
“But, clearly, more must be done. While central government has raised its game, without a true culture change across the public sector as a whole, the Government’s initiatives will have little impact.”
The survey showed that although one in seven firms had bid for a public sector contract in the last year, 41 per cent failed to secure any business from any of the bids they had submitted.
Of those firms that had won contracts, only a quarter (27 per cent) said they had found the Contracts Finder website useful, with twice that number (55 per cent) relying on personal contacts and referrals.
Johnbridge, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “Despite the Government’s admission, the reality is that nothing practical has been done to make things easier.
“The system is too complex and bureaucratic, hence too difficult for SMES. There needs to be more consistency, and the pre-qualification questionnaire needs to be streamlined and simplified.”
The FSB is calling for all parts of the public sector to agree to the range of measures to support small firms detailed in the Procurement Pledge published by the Government last week.
The small firms’ champion is also taking action by undertaking its own research into local government procurement, surveying every council in the UK in order to identify and promote best practice.
launch time: Dr Helen Brown, CEO of Crossroads Care, Nikki Ayliff, head of operations ACC, guest speaker Dame Philippa Russell and Alan Lewin , CEO of Axiom Housing at the launch event of Axiom Crossroads care at Kingsgate.
cultural Shift: Amir Butt, vice chairman of Peterborough FSB, comments on how the public sector as a whole must change.