Government must contract with SMEs to boost jobs

13 January 2009

13 January 2009 | Jake Kanter

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) has called on the government to introduce a single online pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) for all purchases, to help small suppliers compete for public sector contracts.

The questionnaire should replace the "thousands" of different PQQs used by the government, said the FSB, and would be cheap, easy to implement and "massively increase" the number of small suppliers competing for public sector work.

The proposal, launched yesterday, forms part of the FSB's plan to create 400,000 jobs in the UK. It argued that every £1 spent through public procurement on small suppliers generates £2.40 for local economies, because small businesses purchase goods and services from other providers in their region.

Other recommendations in the plan included cutting payroll taxes and promoting apprenticeships. FSB national chairman John Wright said: "We are calling for the government to help small businesses to invest in recruitment and training so they can grow stronger and more competitive, create quality jobs and do their bit to pull the UK out of the recession."

A spokesman for the OGC said it was in the final stages of establishing guidance on a single PQQ and will make an announcement "very soon".

In a speech at a jobs summit in London yesterday, prime minister Gordon Brown outlined plans to help half a million people into work or training over the next two years. It included help for new business start-ups and recruitment subsidies for employers.

Last week Brown said public sector buyers must make it a contractual obligation for suppliers to provide places for apprentices and skills training (Web news, 8 January).

* A recent FSB poll of 400 London-based suppliers revealed that 58 per cent had seen no improvement in payment times following the government's pledge to settle its bills within 10 days. Some 14 per cent had even seen an increase in payment times on public sector contracts.

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