The government is boasting that it will get rid of Mega contracts in bidding for government projects. The problem is that government has pledged in the past to get the red tape out of the way, which is what they are pledging again.
The government says that it is attempting to make participation by SMEs easier and have even developed a website to this end. Changes to procurement include the possibility of publishing contractual terms online.
The Federation of Small Businesses is watching the developments cautiously. It warns that the current bureaucracy would need to be substantially reduced in order to create opportunity for SMEs, because everyone is going to want to bid.
Small businesses just don’t have full time people whose job is to pitch public sector work. That’s the reason SMEs do not typically get the contracts, one expert advises. So, in order to give SMEs more access, which is what the government is promising, they [the government] will have to substantially change their own bureaucracy.
Less than 20 per cent of government jobs are currently awarded to small business. In a recent survey it was discovered that about 25 per cent of FSB members had done some work for local authorities and around 7 per cent had contracts supplying agencies in government. Another 10 per cent or so had gotten contracts with NHS, while only 5 per cent had ever worked with central government.
The FSB represents the lion’s share of SMEs in the UK, so there is as much as about 95 per cent of Whitehall business going to large companies and conglomerates. It is small wonder that the government is trying to change the perception of their association to small business, say FSB authorities.