A Better Procurement Deal for SMEs

Peter Masonbrook
With an estimated turnover of £1,500bn, SMEs are responsible for over 14 million private sector jobs and account for almost half of the net growth in jobs.

The public sector has not always utilised the full potential of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Ninety-nine per cent of the UK’s 4.5 million businesses are SMEs, with an important contribution to make to national growth.

However SMEs have historically found it less easy to access government contracts. Smaller firms have found bidding for public sector work can be fairly time consuming and expensive. The coalition government set out to make government business more accessible to local SMEs in July 2011, pledging that 25 per cent of central government procurement spend, by value, would flow to SMEs directly and through the supply chain, by 2015.

Improvements have certainly been made. Overall government increased its direct spend with SMEs from 6.5 per cent in 2009/10 to 10.5 per cent in 2012/13.

Faithful+Gould is working in partnership with local authority-controlled company Scape to offer public sector bodies a collaborative procurement framework. SMEs are playing an important part on this model, enabling the public sector to keep business and opportunities within the local economy where possible. Often the public sector organisation will already have preferred local suppliers and the Scape framework allows for efficient use of these, and the continuity of the relationship. On being awarded the framework, Faithful+Gould committed to delivering 50 per cent of sub-consultancy services via SMEs, emphasising the importance of a local supply chain.

Faithful+Gould is working in partnership with local authority-controlled company Scape to offer public sector bodies a collaborative procurement framework.

With OJEU tendering procedures already completed, the AMSandDS framework avoids the time-consuming and costly procurement process, bringing time, cost and quality benefits. SMEs add further value to client projects in a number of ways. Being geographically closer to their clients mean SMEs often have a better understanding of local markets and client needs. Their smaller size means they are more flexible and responsive to changing customer demands. Furthermore, SMEs can often provide specialist niche services which larger organisations are unable to do. A client’s preferred supplier can apply to be part of our supply chain and we will guide them through the Faithful+Gould approval process. We ensure that appropriate documents including quality processes, health & safety, insurances, financial risk and other qualifications are in place.

SMEs input on the frameworks brings benefits to all parties. Local government clients can continue to work with their preferred supplier; the SMEs will benefit from continuing to work with their client, but will also benefit from being able to work with any of the other public sector bodies that have signed up to the framework.  

Over 180 SMEs are currently in the process of being signed up to our framework. We are working with a public sector client in Kent for whom we have recently appointed more than 19 SMEs; a University in Scotland for whom we appointed three SMEs and a variety of schemes for a Council in the East Midlands which has attracted over 25 SMEs. We’ll shortly be organising a series of breakfast seminars and local buyer events, for SMEs who would like to know more.

Local authority controlled company Scape appointed Faithful+Gould as the sole supplier on their National Asset Management, Surveying and Design Services Framework on 1st October 2012, via an OJEU compliant process. The appointment marks a second term for Faithful+Gould, building on the success of the previous Design and Technical Services Framework.

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