More public contracts for small firms, says David Cameron as roadshow hits Northwich
The Leader of the Opposition was speaking in Northwich at the latest event in the ‘Cameron Direct’ roadshow, which is touring the country ahead of next year’s General Election. He said a passport system to fast track applications from eligible bidders would help to open up public contracts to many of the UK’s 4.7 million small firms.
Mr Cameron, who also said that struggling small-business employers should be freed from paying National Insurance contributions (NICs), was questioned by local dignitaries and the public on Thursday, 20 August. A representative from the Knutsford-based Forum of Private Business (FPB) asked what short- and long-term measures a Conservative administration would put in place to help small firms survive and grow.
“The Government gives so many of its contracts to big businesses and not enough to small firms,” said Mr Cameron. “There are just too many hoops they have to jump through at the moment. A passport system would mean that, once you have passed the test showing you can do government work, the opportunities would be more available.”
“Awarding bodies need to have more of an entrepreneurial feel. This requires a cultural change that comes from leadership, comes from talking about these things and understanding them, rather than just passing a law.”
FPB member Gaynor Sinar started the furnishings and fabrics shop, Curtain Magic, in Northwich six years ago. She arranged for Mr Cameron to speak at Kingsmead School and organised the 200-strong guest list.
“I would welcome the end of any sort of monopoly situation, whatever it is,” said Mrs Sinar, commenting on the issue. “We need more small businesses to be able to grow in order to encourage people to start them up. If people see small businesses failing all of the time, few will be inclined to become self-employed.”
She urged other business owners, particularly those struggling in the unstable economic climate, to maximise their chances of winning public work.
“I’ve already signed up to the Government’s procurement website, www.supply2.gov.uk and receive email alerts about government contracts that are available,” said Mrs Sinar.
The FPB is encouraging small businesses to seek out public contracts using the website, which was made free to search this month. A cost remains to receive email alerts. Previously, business owners were charged up to £180 per year simply to view government opportunities.
The move follows recommendations made in the Glover review of public procurement, which was published in November 2008. The review found that public sector buyers are missing out on innovation and savings because too few small businesses are able to access contracts.
picture courtesy of The Conservatives