UK government making it easier for Welsh SMEs to win more public sector contracts

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Three roundtable meetings will take place next week to highlight how Welsh SMEs can bid for and win public sector contracts.

  • Welsh small business leaders to hear how the sector can unlock more of the £187 billion worth of public sector contracts annually
  • Just 13% of Welsh small businesses are planning to bid for a public sector contracts in the next 12 months

Three roundtable meetings will take place in Bridgend, Llanrwst and Newtown as new government research reveals that only 13% of Welsh small businesses are planning to bid for a public sector contract in the next 12 months.

The public sector spends £187 billion on goods and services centrally every year and government has been working to open up its contracts to smaller firms, who often provide more innovative services at better value to taxpayers. It wants 25% of central government spend to be with small and medium sized businesses by 2015 – well over £10 billion of business for the sector every year – and with 218,000 small businesses in Wales, employing some 629,000 people, the opportunities to win public sector contracts will be outlined.

The meetings come ahead of next week’s UK Investment Summit in Wales (21 November) which will showcase to global business leaders what makes Wales a great destination for investment.

Led by Wales Office Ministers Baroness Randerson and Alun Cairns, the roundtable meetings will highlight how Welsh firms can take advantage of government commitments to remove the barriers to help them bid for and win contracts, such as the removal of Pre-Qualifying Questionnaires for all low value contracts which are burdensome for firms with smaller resources.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

As part of our long-term economic plan, we are putting in place radical reforms to help SMEs tender for and win business. They are the lifeblood of our economy but in the past it was far too difficult for them to win contracts with both central and local government. I am pleased that Wales Office ministers and representatives from central government are in Wales to talk with small business leaders and I am looking forward to the feedback we get to help inform our future work.

Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns, who is meeting business leaders in Bridgend and Llanrwst, said:

Small businesses are the engine room of the Welsh economy. That’s why we are backing SMEs and making it easier for them to create jobs, secure investment and break into new markets.

By simplifying our procurement process and doing away with red tape and unnecessary bureaucracy we are making it easier for Welsh SMEs to compete for and win government business.

Wales Office Minister Baroness Jenny Randerson, who is meeting business leaders in Newtown, said:

Wales has a thriving entrepreneurial culture and is a great place to start and grow a business.

We want to give ambitious SMEs in Wales every opportunity to flourish and compete with bigger companies. That is why are improving our procurement process so SMEs can be in the best possible position to compete for billions of pounds worth of government contracts.

Ministers will be joined by experts from the Cabinet Office and Wales Office at the sessions alongside local business leaders and officials from the National Procurement Service for Wales, which was set up to enable the Welsh public sector to collaborate more closely in procuring goods and services. Improvements to open up the market to small firms have included:

  • making some contracts smaller
  • simplifying the application process
  • speeding up the payment system
  • making buyers more accountable

In the new year a new version of the government’s Contracts Finder website will also make it easier to find all UK central government and a large number of Welsh tender adverts and business opportunities.

The meetings are being facilitated by the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, the South Wales Chambers of Commerce, the Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce and the Mid Wales Manufacturing Group.

Graham Morgan, Director of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce and Mid Wales Chamber of Commerce said:

We are pleased to be working with the UK government to host these events in South and Mid Wales. As a business organisation we are keen to open up as many opportunities as possible to Welsh businesses, many of whom have the capability to not only bid for but successfully win government contracts.

These roundtable meetings, where businesses will have an opportunity to discuss reforms of the process directly with ministers, are a good example of the UK government working to engage with Welsh business. We hope that these events will open doors for Welsh businesses to enter the public sector procurement process.

Colin Brew, Executive Director, West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce said:

West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce are delighted to be working with the Cabinet Office & Wales Office to offer its members the opportunity to meet with Ministers to discuss the ways in which they can bid to secure government contracts and the on-going changes to the procurement process for small to medium enterprises.

It is refreshing to see government take time to listen to the views of business and to establish greater links. The roundtable discussions offer business the chance to have their say and to play a direct role in on-going reform. The Chamber welcomes any such opportunity and recognises the value of business better understanding the numerous ways in which it can get involved in public sector procurement.

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