In conversation with Sarah Jewell: levelling the playing field for SME’S

What steps are CCS taking to make is easier for smaller businesses to engage with public sector organisations, and ensure their bids are competitive?

We are strongly committed to working with small and medium-sized enterprises and our aspiration remains to spend 33% with SMEs by 2022. We’re taking action on prompt payment, to simplify the application process for small businesses who want to supply to government, and to increase visibility of subcontracting opportunities. Across the public sector we have already taken action to ensure that bidding processes are simplified across the public sector including abolishing burdensome Pre Qualification Questionnaires for low value contracts. We have increased the transparency of opportunities via the Contracts Finder website. We also have a ‘Mystery Shopper’ scheme to allow suppliers to report bad procurement practice and instances of late or poor payment practice in public sector contracts and through supply chains.

In your view, what do you see as the biggest obstacle in the way of small businesses winning public sector contracts and why?

There are many SMEs already supply government successfully and the Government is doing more than ever before to level the playing field for small businesses and we continue to focus on breaking down the barriers to entry for SMEs. The Small Business Panel, established in November 2016 and the Crown Representative for SMEs, Emma Jones, are engaged with government and advising us on how we can support and work better with SMEs. We are also taking our message to SMEs that Government is Open for Business.

Would you agree that developing core commercial skills are key to improving the procurement function across the public sector?

Yes, core commercial skills are key for all public sector organisations to ensure they can successfully manage themselves, these skills need to be developed not only within procurement teams but also in the wider organisations especially with so many of our public sector organisations have multi-disciplinary teams involved in buying services.

What is your key priority moving into 2019?

CCS continues to prioritise our Wider Public Sector customers, because of this we are growing our wider public sector team!

Sarah Jewell is the Account Director for Local Government & Education at the Crown Commercial Service, and will be speaking on ‘Fostering pre-engagement engagement among SME’s’ at the Public Sector Solutions Expo on 20th November. To find out more, please click here