19 December 2008 | Paul Snell
Plans to speed up payment and to increase contract opportunities for suppliers are among 60 actions set out by the Mayor of London to help the capital through the economic downturn.
According to a plan published by Boris Johnson this week, cutting red tape in the procurement process would make it easier for small firms to win business with the Greater London Authority (GLA) Group.
The group includes the Greater London Authority, London Development Agency (LDA), Metropolitan Police Authority, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and Transport for London (TfL), and has a spend of around £3 billion a year.
The proposals include an assurance to shorten supplier payment terms across the group to 10 days. Johnson said he was committed to using the group's purchasing power to improve supplier development, not only through what is bought, but also through the procurement process.
He also promised £1.8 million extra funding for the LDA to help SMEs win contracts via the CompeteFor website. The LDA will offer 75 contracts on the website by March 2010, and TfL will ensure its major construction suppliers put their sub-contracts on the site from April 2009.
There will also be simplified qualification questionnaires for small firms and an effort to lobby large businesses and other public sector organisations in the capital to urge them to open contracts to small firms.
The report also confirmed plans to set up a shared service centre for back office functions, including procurement, in an effort to save £103 million in 2009-2010, and £950 million by 2012.
Establishing a centre to improve efficiency was first mooted following a spending review shortly after Johnson took office (News, 31 July).