Government stalls on SME spending targets

Government stalls on SME spending targets
Government stalls on SME spending targets

It is unclear whether the government will be able to reach its target of 33% of government procurement spending to reach SMEs by 2020, having lost momentum on a number of initiatives.

The centre of government, led by the Cabinet Office and the Crown Commercial Service, has introduced numerous initiatives but along the way some have stalled or stopped altogether. The Public Accounts Committee has reported that in order to do this the centre needs to “move from a generic approach of lifting barriers, to a more focused approach, by helping departments to identify particular areas of government business where SMEs can bring the most benefit.

“It needs to fill key posts so SMEs have a strong voice in government to raise concerns about barriers and making sure that all public sector contract opportunities are communicated properly. The Cabinet Office needs to provide clear leadership to departments and convince us that achieving the higher target of 33% by 2020 is indeed a priority objective across government.”

The report into government spending found:

  • The Government has lost some momentum in work to increase its spending with SMEs and it is not clear that it has increased competition for government business
  • Government has not yet identified the areas of spending where SMEs could bring the most benefit
  • The Government’s figures for spending with SMEs are not a meaningful measure of performance
  • It remains too difficult for SMEs to know what bidding opportunities are available for government contracts
  • It is not clear that the voice of SMEs is being heard in government
  • Overall, we are not convinced that increasing spending with SMEs is being given sufficient priority across government.