New Government plans will increase transparency of SME spend and improve visibility of contract opportunities online

by Victoria Thomason

20 Apr 2018

by Pamela Cook

Following on from the announcement of their supplier consultation to support fairer treatment of SMEs in the procurement process, the Government has yet again shown determination to support the SME community in gaining access to its contractual spend.

They have now announced that from 1st May 2018, suppliers on contracts of over £5m pa must use the Government’s online system ‘Contracts Finder’ to advertise all subcontracting opportunities that are worth over £25,000. The aim of this is to increase visibility of supply chain opportunities to assist suppliers, including SMES, to bid for the work.

It will also become compulsory for suppliers to report on the spend that goes to subcontractors on each project and separately, how much is spent with SMEs. This will help the Government to better understand how SMEs are benefiting from their contracts as a matter of course.

This is great news for SMEs, as a true understanding of the supply chain in terms of spread and spend is the crucial foundation on which to effect real change and improve the access for SME suppliers to the Government.

Compelling greater transparency on supplier spend with SMEs whilst opening subcontracting opportunities to a wider market, will not only lead to an improved spend with SMEs but will ensure the innovation, agility and costs savings to be had when working with SMEs are benefiting more Government projects.

As a member of the Cabinet Office Small Business Panel, I welcome these changes that will be put into place next month. I believe they are vital to the Government achieving its goal of 33% of spend going to SMEs. The need for supplier spend reporting will highlight those major suppliers who are truly embracing the initiative; and indeed, those who aren’t. With supporting SMEs apparently high on the Government’s agenda, the continuing tightening guidelines around supplier’s fair treatment of SMEs will hopefully increase the proportion of suppliers who back and engage with the initiative.