Skip to main content

Business Bids for Contracts

Volume 704: debated on Thursday 25 November 2021

6. What steps the Government are taking to increase opportunities for small businesses to bid for Government contracts. (904352)

11. What steps he is taking to increase opportunities for British businesses to bid for contracts on major infrastructure projects. (904358)

Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the UK economy. We are increasing opportunities for SMEs in a variety of ways, from transparently publishing contract pipelines to simplifying the bidding process.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his answer. I am always proud to see Stoke-on-Trent’s world-leading ceramics across the parliamentary estate when I am busy plate turning, but sadly, the same cannot be said for every Department. Under current Government and parliamentary procurement rules, purchases of less than £10,000 do not require an open tendering process. That freezes out many local ceramics companies, such as Churchill China and Steelite in my Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke constituency. Can my right hon. Friend advise me how we will improve procurement rules to ensure that Stoke-on-Trent’s world-leading ceramics have a fair crack of the whip and can be spread across Whitehall?

My hon. Friend is right to be proud of those industries, and he is also right to draw a distinction between contracts above £10,000, which need to be published, and those below £10,000, albeit of course that those below £10,000 still need to deliver value for money. We are looking, through the legislation that we are bringing forward on procurement, at how we can allow greater comparability in public contracts—that £300 billion of spend—so that we drive better value for money. We are also supporting SMEs through things such as Help to Grow: Digital and Help to Grow: Management in order that they are better enabled to bid for those important contracts.

The rows and rows of wind turbines off our shores have, historically, largely been imported from abroad. What are the Government and the Minister doing to ensure that onshore and offshore renewable technology is British made using British steel?

There are two aspects to that question. First, there is the investment we are making—for example, the £15 billion, increasing to £20 billion, in research and development so that we can make the most of innovation and technical opportunities, building on our university sector expertise. Secondly, covid has shone a light on the importance of resilience in supply chains and the benefits in certain sectors of onshoring more of our supply chains. I think that is one positive that has come out of the covid process.