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Small firms demand a fair chance on council procurement

Procurement spending by local authorities in the UK comes to £88 billion a year. The Federation of Small Businesses have long complained that the process is so cumbersome that it unfairly favours a small number of big contractors. They argue that by squeezing out small firms, Council Taxpayers lose out.

The FSB has carried out a survey which polled all local councils to see how and where they spend their money. A third of councils don't record the location of the firms they are spneding money with. Half don't know the size of the businesses they deal with. The average council's procurement spending is £185 million. If small firms aren't getting any contracts, then councils really ought to know about it.

The FSB offers these proposals:

  • Put mechanisms in place to record and analyse where and with which businesses money is spent. This should also measure the size of business by micro, small and medium. The data should be transparent and publicly available.
  • Ensure they have initiatives to support small firms with the tender process and to develop the potential of their local small business supply base.
  • Streamline and standardise the pre-qualification processes, including specific approaches for the lowest value contracts.
  • Provide detailed, specific and timely feedback to all unsuccessful businesses so they are in a better place to bid in the future.
  • Break contracts into smaller lots where possible.
  • Use the relevant national portal to advertise procurement opportunities.

All sounds reasonable to me.


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