Buyers urged to make supply chains more accessible to SMEs

24 April 2013

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24 April 2013 | Adam Leach

UK firms are being encouraged to make their supply chains open, fair and transparent and boost opportunities for UK SMEs to win contracts by signing a pledge.

Charity Business In The Community (BITC), is calling on companies across the UK to commit to making their contracting processes and procedures more amenable to smaller companies. Signatories to the ‘access pledge’ promise to make their business, fair and simple, transparent, on a level playing field, and open, for all suppliers.

Discussing the pledge at ProcureCon Indirect last week, Matthew Lill, head of operations at BITC – which aims to improve communities with the help of businesses - cited high levels of liability insurance as a common barrier to small firms.

“If you have a £25,000 contract, do you need to have £50 million of public liability insurance against it? Often that is not deliberate and has just been copied and pasted from another contract, but it immediately excludes SMEs,” he said.

Goldman Sachs is among the companies that has already taken action to make its contracts more accessible. The investment bank has reduced the costs to SMEs of bidding by paying for the majority of vendor screening activity itself. Asda, which is focusing on boosting the ethnic diversity of its supply chain, and Santander, which has made all non-disclosure agreements valid for 12 months for any deal they bid for, are among the other companies cited by BITC.

Businesses can make the pledge by having their CEO or equivalent complete a short online form. Today the BITC confirmed to SM that construction firm Wates and 'big four' accountancy firm Deloitte have become the first two companies to make the pledge. Bob Thust, head of community investment, Deloitte, said: “We are delighted to be one of the first businesses to take the access pledge. SMEs bring speed, innovation and capabilities that are vital to our business."

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