CPOs seeking small businesses

16 August 2011

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16 August 2011 | Angeline Albert

CPOs from Thames Valley Police and Reading Borough Council are among those meeting SMEs in the first of many UK events to promote local purchasing.        

Not-for-profit organisation Procurement Connection is hosting public buying events in 60 UK locations from September 2011 to November 2012. Senior buyers from at least 10 major public sector organisations are expected to meet around 150 prospective SME suppliers from each area. 

Described as the UK’s biggest campaign to promote public sector buyer engagement locally, Procurement Connection launched the events in response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan that 25 per cent of public deals are awarded to SMEs.

Reading Borough Council’s procurement department said in a statement: “The council spends about £130 million a year. Much of the new business that is available is low value – 90 per cent of our suppliers are paid less than £25,000 a year and do not go through the open tendering procedure. We currently openly advertise an average of two to three contract opportunities a month - the remainder tends to be won by businesses who are known to us.”

Wendy Wills of Procurement Connection said: “Many businesses think that public sector contracts are too large and involve too much complex tendering. While this may be true at a national level, regionally many smaller contracts are given to local suppliers who can show they provide a great service or product at a competitive cost. These contracts are often done with the minimum of formal process, especially if suppliers are known to the buyer.”

The first event takes place at the Hilton Reading Hotel on 8 September. Five of the public bodies present have a combined annual spend of £347 million. The event will include presentations explaining how each organisation’s procurement process works and tips for businesses to submit a winning bid. Click here for more details.

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