Small firms ‘los­ing out in work bids’

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Etbusiness Daily - By JOHN KRALEVICH john.kralevich@pe­ter­bor­oughto­ *Peter­bor­oughet

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.

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