IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, has responded to a Public Accounts Committee report published today. The report raised concerns about the Government’s efforts to meet its new 33% target for internal spending with SMEs. It also noted that just 44% of listed contracting opportunities include easily accessible information
Simon McVicker, Director of Policy and External Affairs, commented: “The Government has made some progress in bringing small businesses into its supply chain. But there’s still little or no chance of microbusinesses being able to win these contracts.
“The tender process must be made much clearer. It’s too difficult for independent professionals to find out about opportunities in the pipeline and the Government is repeatedly awarding contracts to just five IT providers. This accounts for half of IT spending and it can look like a closed shop for microbusinesses.
“The self-employed provide invaluable, specialist skills on a flexible basis and often provide better value for money than larger businesses. By failing to make microbusinesses aware of available opportunities, the public sector is missing out on experts who can help deliver big projects on time and on budget.
“We would like to see a clear commitment from Government to be transparent about how much they spend on microbusinesses. There should also be a separate target for procurement spend on the smallest businesses. There is a big difference between microbusinesses and SMEs.
“In our view the Government should be doing everything it can to encourage the smallest businesses to bid for and win contracts. An urgent rethink is needed.”