The government consultation into streamlining the process of bidding for public sector contracts closed on 17 Oct and the outputs are awaited. SMEs represent 99.9% of the UK’s 4.5 million businesses, but just 10.5%of central government spend goes to them, at this time. The government aspiration is for this to be 25% by 2015.

The CBI who welcomed the proposals said: “There is huge potential for smaller firms to supply the public sector with goods and services but too often the bureaucracy barrier is too high. Opening up public services markets to lots more companies will boost competition and means the government and the taxpayer will pay less.”

One of the proposals was that pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQ) should be abolished for low-value contracts and a single set of principles be established that public sector bodies will use to buy goods and services, to standardise the advertising, bidding and payment of public deals.

Cabinet Office minister Chloë Smith said: “With £230 billion per year spent on goods and services right across the whole public sector, government wants to seize the opportunity to help hard-working SMEs get on by competing for and winning this business. In the past bidding for public sector contracts was time-consuming, expensive and overly bureaucratic. Removing barriers and setting out a consistent, single set of SME-friendly principles for the whole public sector will provide the right support to encourage significant business and growth opportunities for SMEs, and help give the UK a better starting position in the global race.”

The proposed measures also include improved payment terms and a requirement for all public sector contracts over £10,000 to be advertised on the same website, which will be a welcomed move for many suppliers.