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Increased Focus on SME Services Required by Government

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In a recent report the government has been urged to consider a more considerable approach on the procurement of services from SMEs. The report, which was produced by the National Audit Office, has highlighted growing concerns as to whether the government will be able to hit increased SME spending targets by 2020.

Although, as reported by the National Audit Office, the government actually managed to reach its 2010 target of spending 25% of overall spending with smaller firms by 2015, a year earlier than the targeted end date, the report highlights concerns as to how the government will take its next step. The new target, set at 33% of overall spending,has been cited to take circa £3bn into SME businesses for central government spending alone; an ambitious target.

One of the key measures which has been noted as a positive step forward is the Crown Commercial Service’s contract finder, allowing SMEs to more easily, and readily access governmental contracts worth more than £10,000. Yet, the report highlights that in certain areas of service, such as facilities management, it may still yet be too challenging for SMEs to compete for contracts against larger enterprises.

With the list of successful applicants to the government contracts on the contract finder thus far highlighting a lack of success for SMEs, it is hoped that the government will assist in opening up further contracts and elements of the main contracts for subcontracting where SMEs will be able to enter the fray on a more competitive stage.

As such, the National Audit Office has suggested for the Crown Commercial Service to alter its approach to procurement, by working directly with key departments to best assess where SMEs can bring the greatest amount of benefit; not solely for SME benefit, but also for the government as a whole. Additionally, suggestions have been made as to the need for oversight of key contractor to subcontractor relationships.

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BDC 299 December 2022