19 June 2003 | David Arminas
The City of York Council has halved the 30-page document taxi drivers need to fill out when applying for council contracts.
Procurement adviser Derek Nash said the move was part of York's initiative to make it easier for small and medium-size companies to get work with the city.
"I couldn't believe they had to fill out 30 pages covering things such as 'how often do you clean you registration plate'."
Many drivers complained it took at least a day to fill in the forms, which required two-year's accounts, insurance details and certificates of incorporation.
"I sat down with five drivers and we whittled it down to 15 pages that still include essential information about time scales, service levels and more. Taxi drivers are self-employed and aren't earning any money if they are filling in forms."
Nash said the revised document should take about two hours to fill in.
York spends about £500,000 a year on taxis to transport children, disabled adults and other people in its care and using its services. About 20 taxis share in the business at any one time.
A spokesperson for the government's Small Business Service said: "York is an example to other authorities where excessive paperwork demands on SMEs often discourage them from tendering."
The SBS is compiling data on the type of government contracts won by SMEs for possible publication this autumn.
In April, SME suppliers slammed the London Development Agency for its "intimidating" questionnaire that required 40 separate attachments.
But the LDA defended its process, saying it helps to ensure that suppliers have the required experience.