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- Karen Leeson, SME Policy Advisor, Cabinet Office
- Lindsay Maguire, Head of Small Business Policy, Cabinet Office
- Deborah Fraser, Director – Regions, CBI
The role of the Government Commercial Function is to deliver the UK government’s commitment to value for money, and to support SMEs in its procurement activities.
The government have taken actions to be more inclusive of SME businesses in its procurement activities, which has been achieved by embedding an ethos within government departments. All UK government departments have published an SME Action Plan.
In addition to this, regular engagement is held with SME firms to share ideas, identify barriers, and streamline the process for smaller firms to tender. Other recent initiatives to support participation have included Contract Finder, which allows firms to monitor procurement opportunities via a single portal, and running supplier engagement events to help those in government better understand the challenges faced by SMEs.
The panel then faced questions from assembled delegates. These included questions on how to identify each department’s ‘SME Champion’, the importance of weighing up ‘social value’ when considering a tender, and the need to be less risk averse when considering ‘innovative’ processes or ways of working in a tender.