The Success of the Procurement Event at the btc in Stevenage

Businesses learn about Public Sector Procurement - November 2018

In support of the Small Business Saturday campaign and in partnership with Stevenage Borough Council and Wenta, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) recently held a networking breakfast, where attendees received a valuable insight in to how to successfully win contracts to supply the public sector. The networking breakfast took place at the Business and Technology Centre (BTC) on Tuesday 27 November, in the run up to Small Business Saturday itself, which is due to take place on December 1 this year, as a celebration of independent small businesses and encouraging people to shop locally.

Small Business Saturday is Celebrating its 6th anniversary this year. In 2017, an estimated £748m was spent on the day. Over 115,000 tweets were sent on the day itself, reaching more than 115 million with #SmallBizSatUK trending at number one in the UK.

The event provided small business owners with the opportunity to find out how to secure valuable public sector contracts, to further grow and expand their businesses. Businesses were also able to gain an understanding of the procurement processes and rules within Hertfordshire, as well as an understanding of the tender process and unravelling of the documents required. Businesses attending the event received a number of top tips for tendering and how to improve their bids, as well as hearing about new opportunities that were on the horizon.

Kirsten Brown, Stevenage Borough Council’s Procurement Manager, delivered the main presentation and said: “This was an extremely useful event. I was able to explain how Stevenage Borough Council award tenders to small businesses and why we think it is important to do so. We welcome bids from our small businesses and want to encourage more of them to take advantage of the opportunities that arise. It was great to meet so many small local business owners who want to supply us.”

The event was hosted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Hertfordshire branch leader, Pam Charman and FSB Development Manager. Caron Kendall, Development Manager at the FSB presented on the five key reforms that the FSB wanted local and national government to adopt in order to remove a number of barriers hindering small businesses from supplying to Local and national government, which would lead to economic benefits both locally and nationally. These proposals include:

  1. Requiring local authorities to publish all contracts over £10,000 on Contracts Finder
  2. Giving the Mystery Shopper Service (MSS) legal power to enforce its findings
  3. Better enforcement of the law requiring detailed feedback from local authorities to unsuccessful tenderers.
  4. Recognising comparable accreditations to reduce existing barriers of entry to small firms seeking public procurement contracts.
  5. Replace framework agreements with Dynamic Purchasing Systems

Pam Charman, FSB Hertfordshire branch Leader said: “Despite Government efforts to reform public procurement practices, most small businesses still face a fixed system which is preventing them from getting a fair share of public contracts. Small Businesses need to be given the chance to secure these opportunities; it is no longer acceptable that they continue to be effectively excluded from the process. We heard how Stevenage Borough Council are already beating the government aspiration of ensuring that 33% of all public sector contracts go to small firms by 2020. They have 34% of their contracts already going to small businesses. This is good practice and we would like to see this emulated amongst other public sector buyers.”

Charlie Smith, Wenta’s Digital Marketing Executive said: “The Procurement Breakfast was a fantastic opportunity for all local small businesses to benefit from a wealth of knowledge from a panel of expert speakers. Each speaker shed light on a different part of this huge topic and the audience seemed really engaged, scribbling away taking notes throughout the whole event!”

Cllr Ralph Raynor, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Enterprise and Transport at Stevenage Borough Council said: “Stevenage Borough Council recognises the significant importance of small businesses to the local economy and is committed to the Small Business Saturday initiative. We were delighted to partner with the FSB and Wenta to ensure more local businesses receive the benefits from this national campaign but also remove some of the red tape surrounding the procurement processes and rules, which can be barrier to businesses accessing public sector contracts. We are fully committed to ensuring that 33% of all our contracts are secured by small businesses, in order to grow a thriving and enterprising economy which benefits all local businesses.”

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