SME IT suppliers to benefit as Scottish government consults on procurement

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A consultation is under way to further improve the situation for Scottish public sector procurement,  potentially handing more business to SME IT suppliers than those operating throughout the rest of UK. In recent months the UK government has been vocal about its desire to disrupt the cartel of large suppliers servicing the public sector. The Cabinet

A consultation is under way to further improve the situation for Scottish public sector procurement,  potentially handing more business to SME IT suppliers than those operating throughout the rest of UK.

In recent months the UK government has been vocal about its desire to disrupt the cartel of large suppliers servicing the public sector. The Cabinet Office has been keen to play up the savings made by reducing and renegotiating contracts handed out to big suppliers like Oracle and Microsoft, while the G-Cloud was unveiled to no small fanfare over its benefits to SMEs.

Clearly attempts have been made to make life easier on the smaller suppliers traditionally kept out of the running as far as landing government contracts were concerned.  Interestingly though the landscape is rather different just north of border.  In a consultation document, the Scottish government announced it will further seek to increase the business that goes through smaller suppliers.

A consultation document highlighting proposals shows that of the £9 billion public sector spend, 45 percent is paid in contracts given to SMEs.  In the Public Contracts Scotland portal, 78 percent of those successfully bidding for contracts are SMEs.

According to the consultation report this puts Scotland “in the company of only four EU member States (Luxembourg, Slovakia, Germany and Ireland)” in which “SMEs had greater access to public procurement above the EU-thresholds than their significance in the wider economy would suggest”.

MSP Alex Neil said as part of the Procurement Reform Bill proposals to the Scottish Parliament, views would now be sought on how to further improve the landscape in future.

This contrasts with the opportunities given to IT suppliers in the UK as a whole, which is way down the list according to European Commission analysis, ranking 20th out of a list of 27 members.

The landscape has undoubtedly been improving for IT suppliers seeking to bag contracts, and tangible steps have been made, such as the introduction of an online tender tool to aid smaller IT firms in bidding for contracts.

However, it is clear that there is a long way to go to before smaller IT suppliers throughout the rest of the UK have the same ability to land contracts as those operating in Scotland.


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