Amey, Balfour Beatty and Capita are among the first nine firms to agree to put subcontracts out to tender using the government’s free website Contracts Finder.
The move is part of the Cabinet Office’s drive to see more government work go to SMEs. Figures released by the Cabinet Office show that government is on track to increase the percentage of its £230bn annual spend that goes to SMEs from 6.7% to 13.7% by the end of the financial year.
The Contracts Finder website is seen as key to this; of the 5,768 contracts posted to date 2,025 have been awarded to SMEs.
Government will also offer SMEs better visibility of future procurement needs through a new website that will allow government buyers to make informal postings about what they will need to buy in future and allow SMEs to respond and explain what they can offer. In parallel, SMEs will be able to use the service to pitch their own innovative, cost saving, proposals direct to government.
The government is also extending the investigative Mystery Shopper service where SMEs can complain about procurement processes and trigger an investigation. From today, suppliers can use this service anonymously to escalate issues about problems in government supply chains to the Cabinet Office.
Other moves to help SMEs as part of the initiative include prompter payment through the rolling out of project bank accounts beyond the construction sector.