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The Government is open for business: are you ready?

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: Commercial skills

From this week, new EU and UK legislation comes into effect resulting in one of the biggest ever changes to the way the public sector buys goods and services, opening up its spend to more small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) than ever before.

It’s a change, spearheaded by the Crown Commercial Service, that is already revolutionising how the civil service does business, and whom we do it with. Britain is the first EU Member State to implement these improved rules, 14 months earlier than the EU deadline.

The Government wants to benefit from competition from the best businesses in Britain, large and small. In fact we spent £11.4bn in the year 2013 to 2014. We have opened up the public sector’s £187 billion spend each year to SMEs by changing the way it buys to help the best bidders win and allowing civil servants to get the best value for money for the taxpayer.

This is not only great for the small businesses that make up 99 per cent of all private sector businesses in the UK, but also great for us as a civil service, because it means we open our spend up to a vibrant, exciting marketplace, full of innovation and new ideas.

Why are we doing this?

Stephen Allott, the Government’s Crown Representative for SMEs, explains why these reforms are important, and hear some top tips from business owners on helping SMEs bid for your contracts:

What has changed?

Suppliers and their sub-contractors will be paid within 30 days

  • public bodies will be publicly accountable via an annual late payment report

A much simpler and quicker bidding process

  • we have abolished complicated selection processes, such as the Pre Qualification Questionnaire for low value public sector contracts and greatly simplified selection for higher value ones

A new public sector procurement portal , making it easier to advertise opportunities and get those adverts seen:

  • all public sector contracts and pipelines are now on one website - above £10,000 in central Government and £25,000 in the wider public sector
  • it’s free for suppliers to use and register for email alerts
  • it’s quick and easy to search by price, location and sector
  • it’s compatible with smart phones and tablets

Mystery Shopper service

Mystery Shopper is a service that allows suppliers to anonymously raise concerns about public sector procurement practice so they can be quickly investigated and resolved.

  • Crown Commercial Service will be using the Mystery Shopper service to review compliance with these measures
  • Mystery Shopper also conducts proactive spot-checks on buyers

For more details, also see A guide to doing business with government.

You can also get advice from the experts at the Crown Commercial Service or call 0345 410 2222

Find out more:

 Guidance has been issued on the reforms, which is available via the following links:

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  1. Comment by Andy posted on

    The headline for this article refers to SMEs. SME to me is a company of very classy and expensive record turntable tone arms. To someone who doesn't know what SMEs are in this context how does the use of jargon in the "headline" fit with Plain English and always giving the full text before using abbreviations? And how is "SME" small and medium business? Surely that's SMB?

  2. Comment by Doug Reynholm posted on

    What do we do about the growing number of companies who refuse to deal with the CCS?

  3. Comment by A Hill posted on

    When talking almost solely to Prime Contractors where is the opportunity for SMEs?