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Government aims to level playing field for small businesses

7 December 2021

The UK government has announced a number of initiatives aimed at helping small businesses to bid for and win more government contracts.

The government wants to give smaller businesses better access to the £50 billion worth of public contracts - which can include anything from supplying hospital equipment to providing public sector pensions - and which are tendered each year.

The Selling To Government Guide provides SMEs with essential information on how to find government contract opportunities and how to bid for and win them. It includes tips on how small firms can make sure they are showcasing their strengths during the bidding process. The guide will be backed up by online webinar sessions for small businesses.

The most recent government figures show that small firms have won more than £15 billion in government contracts this year. Cabinet Office minister Lord Agnew said: "This guide … will help small businesses navigate what can be a complex world of public procurement."

The guide also offers advice on how small firms can get work through supply chains by working with larger companies to help deliver services such as long-running IT or catering projects. The government considers social value when choosing suppliers which gives smaller enterprises the chance to highlight the work they do in their communities and could offer them a better chance of winning government contracts.

The government is bringing in "sweeping procurement rules changes", according to Lord Agnew, to make it easier for SMEs to win government work. The measures will remove barriers for smaller suppliers by getting rid of "unnecessarily complicated regulations".

Lord Agnew said: "We are simplifying the bidding process to make it easier for SMEs to secure contracts by creating one single central platform which suppliers have to register on, so they only have to submit their data once to qualify for any public sector procurement."

Small Business minister Paul Scully said: "The government is leading the way, supporting firms with this new handbook as well as ground-breaking schemes like Help to Grow: Digital which will help businesses to level up with discounted software and free tech support."

Help to Grow: Digital will provide business leaders with the advice and funding they need to embrace digital technology and help their business grow through discounted software and free advice and support, while Help to Grow: Management offers management and leadership training. Designed to be manageable alongside full-time work, businesses receive 50 hours of management training across 12 weeks delivered by participating business schools.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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