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Government Contracts: Bids from Small Businesses

Volume 696: debated on Thursday 27 May 2021

What steps the Government are taking to increase opportunities for small businesses to bid for Government contracts. (900572)

What steps the Government are taking to increase opportunities for small businesses to bid for Government contracts. (900573)

Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our UK economy. That is why it is vital that we are ensuring that the power of Government spending supports that vital sector, as part of both the economic recovery from covid-19 and our levelling-up agenda. We are increasing opportunities for SMEs in a variety of ways, and our measures are working. Those measures include breaking up contracts into smaller chunks, transparently publishing contract pipelines and removing complexity from the bidding process. Additionally, our new social value model explicitly allows greater weight to be given to those bids that help drive post-covid recovery.

Hastings and Rother Federation of Small Businesses has highlighted the need for small business-led levelling up. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to ensure that small businesses in places such as beautiful Hastings and Rye have opportunities in public procurement processes, in line with a rebalancing of local economies?

I agree that SMEs play a vital role in our levelling-up agenda. We want to see a greater variety of companies delivering Government contracts from every corner of our country. I am sure that our new social value approach will mean more opportunities for SMEs and social enterprises to win Government contracts by demonstrating the full extent of the value that they will generate, not just economically but taking into account the additional social benefits that can be achieved from the delivery of contracts.

In its last report, the women and enterprise all-party parliamentary group found that women-owned businesses added £115 billion to the UK economy, despite securing only about 5% of Government and public sector contracts. What more can the Government do to encourage more female-owned small businesses to come forward to apply for contracts and have the confidence that they will have an equal chance in the procurement process?

I thank my hon. Friend for everything that he does as chair of the APPG on women and enterprise. I share his concern that SME owners of all backgrounds should be benefiting from the investment that Government contracts bring. We are doing more than ever to encourage all SMEs, including those owned by women, into public procurement. Government spending with SMEs continues to rise, with 26.7% of the £58 billion spent by the Government in 2019-20 going to SMEs.