THE government has created a new ‘hub’ on its website that brings together the various ways it says it is helping small businesses. The Small and Medium Business Hub has been published by the Cabinet Office and in it the government restates its commitment to prompt payments and lists ways to compete for government contracts.
According to the webpage, “Government has a target of paying 90 per cent of its invoices within five days, and all of them within 30 days, to ensure we pay our suppliers on time. Each department reports their payment performance progress…
“Since 1 September 2019, any organisation that bids for a central government contract in excess of £5 million a year needs to demonstrate it has effective payment systems in place to ensure a reliable supply chain.
“As a part of this, the government has set a standard of 95 per cent of all supply chain invoices to be paid within 60 days for organisations who want to do business with government. Suppliers who do not comply with the Prompt Payment standard could be prevented from winning government contracts. This will help ensure good payment practice gets passed down to small sub-contractors.”
The government website does not provide any advice for small businesses for dealing with the private sector, where payment terms often extend to 90-days and beyond. But it does provide help for those SMEs that want to bid for more government contracts. It recommends signing up to Contracts Finder in England, Public Contracts Scotland, Sell2Wales, eSourcing NI and eTendersNI to search for contract opportunities in different sectors, find out what’s coming up in the future and look up details of previous tenders and contracts.
From 1 January 2021 there will be no requirement for public sector procurement notices to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. This will be replaced by a new e-notification service, Find a Tender.
All of this activity is policed by the Public Procurement Review Service (PPRS). The PPRS sits within the Cabinet Office and allows government suppliers and potential government suppliers to raise concerns anonymously about potentially poor public sector procurement practice. If you have a concern about a procurement process or a problem with payment on a public contract you can let them know by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will investigate for you.
While Made in Britain is broadly supportive of all these government initiatives to ‘oil the wheels’ of public procurement, we would very much like to know what you think. Do these measures go far enough to give British SMEs a bite of the government cherry? And what type of legislation would you like to see to support similar measures in the private sector? Email: email@example.com with your comments.