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Could changes to public sector contracts help your business grow?

Today the government has announced reforms to open up the public sector’s £187 billion spend each year to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by changing the way government buys to enable the best bidders to win. Plus there’s renewed commitment to pay suppliers within 30 days.

The government says it wants competition in its marketplace from the best businesses in Britain, large and small, to get the best value for money for the taxpayer. Buying from more SMEs can drive innovation and efficiencies in public services. New legislation comes into effect which aims to open up the public sector’s spend to more SMEs.

How has the law changed?

  • Public sector suppliers and their sub-contractors now paid within 30 days – Public bodies will be publicly accountable via their annual late payment report.
     
  • A much simpler and quicker bidding process – For example, the Pre Qualification Questionnaires for low value public sector contracts has been abolished.
     
  • Public bodies will report on new spend with SMEs, increasing accountability – And more changes building on this legislation are coming soon in the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Bill.

How can I find contracts?

Search for contracts online

Register for free on the new Contracts Finder website and sign up for free tailored email alerts on public sector contracts by sector, locality and size.

All public sector contracts and pipelines are now on this website - above £10,000 in central government and £25,000 in the wider public sector.

For more information call the Crown Commercial Service supplier helpline 0345 010 3503.

What should I do if I experience poor or unfair procurement practice?

Mystery Shopper is a service that allows suppliers to anonymously raise concerns about public sector procurement practice (e.g. a tender is unrealistic or has unnecessary demands) so they can be quickly investigated and resolved. Mystery Shopper also conducts proactive spot-checks on buyers.

The Mystery Shopper team can be contacted at MysteryShopper@crowncommercial.gov.uk, 0345 010 3503 or on Twitter @GovMysteryShop.

Top tips for public sector tendering

  • Focus your efforts – Be selective. Don't go for every contract on Contracts Finder that sounds vaguely promising. Streamline your efforts and focus on one or two contracts that you have a realistic chance of getting.
     
  • Be proactive – The fact-finding element in business development is hugely important, but often neglected. Before you make a formal bid, ring up and speak to the buyer. Ask good open questions. Some public sector organisations also run workshops on their procurement process and how to write a bid.
     
  • Complete the form – Give the tender application your full attention. Fill it in properly, answer each question and don't leave blanks.
     
  • Learn from each bid – Ask for feedback every time you tender for a contract - whether you win or not. This will help you to keep refining your bidding technique.

For advice on tendering or to let us know about your experience of public procurement or the Mystery Shopper service, members can call us on 0845 130 1722.

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