Small Businesses get Free Access to Public Sector Contracts

Starting today, Small Businesses will receive free access to thousands of public sector contract opportunities.

The move is a trial by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) to open up the tendering process to the UK’s SMEs.

From today until 31st July 2008 the Supply2Gov website will allow new registrants free access to public sector contracts valued at under £100,000.

The free trial is part of the former DTI’s Enterprise Strategy released in March, which proposed new measures to ensure a greater share of government business was available to the UK’s small firms.

The 3 month free trial will allow new registrants access to over 3000 new contracts that are available every month and will not limit bidding for contracts to a local level but will allow for application on national projects.

Since June 2006 the Supply2Gov website has published nearly 80,000 government contracts with many being under the value of £100,000. These lower-cost contracts are seen as particularly relevant for the SME sector.

Once the free trial period is over, new registrants will be limited to free access for local-level contracts whilst the national contract access will require an upgrade to the service.

Commenting on the launch of the free trial Business Minister Shriti Vadera said:

"Small and medium sized businesses need our support to expand. Many smaller businesses are more innovative, have lower costs and present better value for taxpayers than larger firms.

"Introducing Britain’s small firms to Government procurement contracts online will provide opportunities to grow that they would not have otherwise found.

"Encouraging more small businesses to register for opportunities will mean buyers benefit from increased competition and access to a wider range of suppliers."

John Wright, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses added:

"The announcement of a free trial for small businesses to get access to public sector contracts is very welcome news. We supported the Supply2 initiative from the outset and we hope that this free trial period will encourage more small businesses to try their hand at delivering goods and services to the public sector.

"But local authorities and government departments must play their part too by making sure that more small business opportunities are advertised on Supply2. Opening up public sector procurement to the UK’s 4.5 million small businesses can and should eradicate the false assumption that biggest is always best."

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