Welcoming the National Audit Offices’ report, ‘Government’s spending with small and medium-sized enterprises’, Naureen Khan, Associate Director of Public Sector commented:
“The NAO’s conclusions echo the findings and recommendations of our SME report. To continue to make progress against the Government’s target, a focus on opening up the market and creating a level playing field is critical.”
Whilst initiatives like the G-Cloud framework are making a difference, it’s clear from this report that barriers remain. techUK’s survey of 171 SMEs found that the top three barriers for SMEs accessing the public sector market are onerous procurement process (64%), risk averse culture(59%) and onerous Terms and Conditions (33%).
Where Government has invested in tools, poor awareness has resulted in limited take up. 86% had never used Mystery Shopper Scheme, representing a clear missed opportunity. Even more worryingly, SMEs that had used the tools haven’t found them useful – 62% did not think Contracts finder has helped small businesses access opportunities in the public sector.
Khan continues: “The NAO rightly points out there is a clear issue with Civil Servants understanding of SMEs capability, and where they can have the most impact.”
techUK’s 2015 survey of 1000 Civil Servants found that 33% of civil servants are unsure if their departments wanted to procure more services from SMEs. This is supported by our SME report, in which 96% of respondent did not think that civil servant buyers had a good understanding of how SMEs can meet their needs
techUK has been encouraged by the response from Government to work closely with industry to address these issues. Sally Collier, CEO, Crown Commercial Service spoke at the launch of our SME report and committed to working with techUK to address the issues highlighted in our report. We will shortly be publishing an action plan on how techUK will work with Government to address the barriers highlighted in our report.
Khan concludes: “A more diverse and vibrant public sector supply chain which includes large and small is critical to delivering the end to end transformation that is urgently needed.”