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Maude unveils steps to ensure SMEs get 25% of government contracts

Further details have emerged about how the government expects to meet its goal of awarding 25% of government contracts to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Speaking at the Summit for Small Business, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude promised the government would streamline the procurement process and improve its transparency.

The introduction of a standardised core pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) across central government is among the key measures. This will be made mandatory from December 2010.

Other steps include:

  • The investigation of options to enable suppliers to submit standard PQQ data just once to further simplify the process for suppliers
  • A “Lean Review” to uncover the causes of delay in the procurement process and to suggest actions to rectify them. Recommendations will be revealed on 1 December 2010
  • The launch of a “Contracts Finder system” in March 2011. This free facility will help small businesses find public sector procurement, and sub-contracting opportunities in one single place online. All central government tender documents and contracts will also be held on the system
  • A focus on targeting action in those markets “where it is known small businesses are prevalent and can offer value for money”
  • The publication of data on central government spend with small businesses in November 2010. The Cabinet Office will then agree action with individual government departments to increase the amount of business awarded to SMEs
  • Support for Lord Young’s online consultation with SMEs on their experience of public sector procurement and how the process can be improved.

Maude said small businesses and social enterprises had a vital role to play in the growth of the UK economy.

“Often they will be the most flexible, the quickest to respond and the most imaginative,” the minister said. “That is why we are committed to making it easier for these organisations to compete for government business.”