New regulations and post-Brexit changes to public procurement could help small and medium-sized Rutland businesses pitch for lucrative government and public sector contracts, according to a government business tsar at the Biz Club’s monthly lunch at the Falcon Hotel in Uppingham.
Martin Traynor OBE, who previously helped the Government to rip up over 3,000 regulations during his tenure on the Government’s Regulator Policy Committee, is now working in the Cabinet Office as the Small Business Crown Representative to help open up public procurement to SMEs.
Martin, a former Chief Executive of the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce, explained to Biz Club guests that Central Government spends around £60bn a year on goods and services and has an aspiration that for every £3 it spends on these goods and services, it wants to see £1 spent with SMEs, either directly or through the supply chain.
He said: “Many small business people think that pitching for central government contracts is overly bureaucratic, too hard to do, and that they don’t pay on time. He pointed out that central government is now one of the best payers in the UK, but there are still a number of perceptions that need to be overcome before SMEs consider doing business with the public sector.
Martin explained that the Government’s pre-qualification questionnaire has been simplified using plain English wherever possible, with added advice and guidance for SMEs on how to get through the process.
He explained how reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules since leaving the EU, has given contracting authorities more flexibility and the ability to ‘set aside’ contracts for SMEs, and by location, if the value is below the threshold. Martin outlined some of the changes he expected to see in the proposed Procurement Bill, which will again make the whole process of public procurement simpler for SMEs to navigate.
Martin reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to supporting SMEs, where every department has a Small Business Action Plan, which sets out how they will engage with SMEs and what actions they will take to open up their procurements. Every department has a nominated Minister to oversee this work and an SME Champion from within the civil service to support this activity.
Martin said: “I would encourage SMEs in Rutland to look at pitching for both central government and wider public sector contracts. The public sector spends £292bn (14%of GDP) a year on goods and service and there are many opportunities for SMEs to bid for those contracts. Many departments have moved their Meet the Buyer events to online, giving business people the opportunity to learn about the opportunities available without having to give up a day’s work travelling to and from venues”.
Biz Club Chair Shane James thanked Martin for attending the lunch and said: “Once again we have had a really brilliant speaker who has given excellent advice for Rutland businesses and entrepreneurs. It stimulated a great discussion so we would welcome new members who feel they would enjoy listening to our speakers over lunch in the convivial atmosphere of the Falcon Hotel.