by Pamela Cook
I was delighted to see the news last week that the Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden, has not only listened to the blockers and challenges that the SME community face when working with the Government, but has been proactive in exploring the opportunities for both parties. I recently had a meeting with the Minster and I was left in no doubt of his intention to support the SME community and help work towards the aim of 33% of Government contracts spend to go to SMEs.
The consultation announced today around prompt payment to suppliers is certainly a positive step. In some cases, larger suppliers are taking over 120 days to pay SME sub-contractors, despite some being signed up to the Government Prompt Payment Code. The consultation will gather views on how to tackle this, with the option put forward of working only with suppliers who can prove they are fair and responsible in their payment of SMEs. Any who cannot demonstrate this would be excluded from major Government procurements, paving the way for suppliers who deal more fairly with SME sub-contractors.
This proposal shows real appreciation of the value SMEs can bring to the table and I think the initiatives currently led by Oliver Dowden will serve the SME community well. Encouragingly, the Prime Minister has also underlined her commitment to the SME agenda; she will write to the Cabinet, asking them to nominate a Small Business minister in each department. Taken as a whole, it seems that the Government are intent on delivering their aim of better supporting SMEs in their procurement process. They will in turn benefit from the innovations, opportunities, costs savings, disruptive technologies and flexibility that can be achieved through working with small business.