Small businesses one step closer to gaining better access to Government budgets

by Victoria Thomason

17 Jan 2023

This week the Procurement Bill, which to improve SME access to Government spend, passes into the Committee stage in the House of Commons.

The UK Government’s Procurement Bill, which will simplify the current four sets of laws into one, has passed the Second Reading in House of Commons and has moved into the Committee stage. The new Bill aims to open up more government procurement for small businesses and voluntary and community groups, making it easier for them to win more of the £300bn of goods, services and works that the government buys each year.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Jeremy Quin said:

We are making public sector procurement simpler, more transparent, and easier to navigate. We are determined to deliver the best possible results from the £300billion the public sector spends each year on procurement.

The Bill introduces new rules to help the government procure more quickly in emergency situations, such as during health pandemics, ensuring that contracting authorities can act swiftly and transparently to buy vital goods. These rules will also improve the government’s ability to exclude suppliers, both in the UK and overseas, who are involved in modern slavery – further clamping down on this abhorrent practice.

Cabinet Office Minister Alex Burghart said:

We know that complex rules have long been one of the major challenges for SMEs trying to win government work. And while government spending with small businesses is rising, we want to turbocharge this growth. This Bill will deliver on that, making it easier for SMEs, who make up 99% of UK businesses, to compete for and win government contracts, through smarter, simpler and more flexible regulations.

How will the bill benefit Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)?

SMEs will benefit from a number of provisions being written into the Bill that aim to lift barriers for small businesses. These include:

  • Greater visibility of upcoming work, giving SMEs more time to gear up for bidding
  • A new central platform showing future work in each area. This means for example a new SME tech firm in Lancashire will be able to search for tech opportunities upcoming in their region
  • Creating one single website to register on, rather than the multiple and time-consuming systems SMEs currently must register on before bidding for work
  • Reducing unnecessary insurance costs before a supplier has even bid for a contract
  • A new Competitive Flexible procedure, which will allow contractors to design more innovation into the process, benefiting smaller tech start-ups
  • Strengthening prompt payment, so that businesses throughout the public sector supply chain receive payment within 30 days


Thoughts from our CEO, Pamela Cook:

Being a SME ourselves, we welcome the changes being proposed in the Procurement Bill. These proposed reforms will make it easier for businesses of all sizes to participate in public sector supply chains, which will particularly benefit SMEs and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs) who are the lifeblood of the UK society and economy.

As an active member of the Small Business Panel at the Cabinet Office, we have worked tirelessly to have the voice of small businesses heard in government. So, it’s heartening that these proposed reforms have so much support. Once implemented, they should open countless opportunities for all of us who have traditionally faced obstacles in working with central government and the broader public sector. And the public sector will gain better access to agile and affordable innovation much more easily than before. Ultimately, everyone stands to benefit from these changes.

Read more about the benefits of the Procurement Bill for SMEs on the UK Government website.