Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Council Helps Put Small Businesses On Level Playing Field

Steps taken to help smaller businesses compete equally with larger ones for Council contracts of up to £100,000 have been endorsed by the Federation of Small Businesses.

The move is part of Cambridgeshire County Council’s drive to boost the local economy by ensuring smaller and local businesses have more opportunities to win contracts.

Unlike larger businesses, smaller enterprises often don’t have the resources and in house expertise to complete bids for large contracts.

Over the last year the Council has reduced the threshold for advertising contracts from £20,000 to £10,000. This means more contacts of a lower value are being advertised on the Source Cambridgeshire site which are likely to be appealing to smaller and local businesses.

The use of the site for opportunities under £10,000 is also encouraged. It has also simplified the procurement process by changing the rules on when to go to full tender.

The Council now only goes to tender for contracts worth over £100,000 in total value, meaning that for contracts of a lower value, the more resource friendly quoting process is used. The Council also require that at least one local quote should always be obtained when procuring under £100,000.

The Council is also undertaking a number of other exercises to ensure small and local businesses are not disadvantaged. This includes holding bidder days which involves training on how to use its e-procurement tools.

The Council has been working closely with the Federation (FSB) and other organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce to understand the frustrations small businesses have with the public sector procurement process.

The changes being made are so that unnecessary barriers are removed to make it easier for small businesses to compete for contracts.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Steve Count, Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance, said: “The County Council is committed to helping and supporting business to boost our economy. The Council contracts for many services and products so it is right that not only we get best value but small businesses have an equal chance of competing for this work. We have worked closely with the Federation of Small Business and other organisations to improve the way we do things to make it easier for companies to bid for contracts. This is part of the County Council’s priority of making sure the money we spend goes further and helps the wider community.”