CBI: CBI on procurement
Business issues


Good procurement - or purchasing - of goods and services by government ensures the public gets the right services they need with good outcomes and value for money for the taxpayer


All public bodies are under pressure to reduce spending, but they still need to maintain important services which people need. By procuring - spending - more effectively, the public sector can positively change the way many services operate. But that does require improved procurement skills and strong leadership to bring about change. It also means working more closely with providers from the private and third sectors as well as existing public sector providers.

Our new report, Getting a better purchase, highlights that despite improvements made since 2010 to reduce the burden of procurement, many firms are yet to feel the benefits in terms of faster and cheaper. The scale of the challenge – government has over 220,000 suppliers and thousands of separate purchasing bodies – means that achieving consistent improvement is tough. 67% of firms feel government is not effectively standardising procurement practices across the public sector – this means higher costs and bureaucracy for firms dealing with different parts of government and is a real barrier to smaller firms bidding for contracts.

 The new EU Procurement Directive should help reduce the complexity of many procurements and lower the costs all round. The CBI supports a swift transposition of it into UK law. We also welcome the Government's commitment to improving access for SMEs to public sector contracts. In our submission to the Cabinet Office current consultation, we say that the best route to support SMEs is for government to ensure its procurement practices are more consistent for all stakeholders and to recognise the interdependence of large and small firms in delivery many important public sector contracts. 


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