Maude said: “It is certainly the case that a lot of central government procurement militates against the effective involvement and participation of small businesses, SMEs.
“Part of that is the way we procure; extremely lengthy, long drawn out, expensive, tiresome pre-qualification processes. And very risk adverse procurement … businesses being required to show track record of providing exactly the same services to exactly the same public sector customer in a way that precludes newer, younger, more agile and responsive suppliers from competing. It means you have a less competitive market, less participation and a poorer result all round.”
“We will make it easier, less costly, less burdensome [for SMEs]” he said. “We are not going to ordain that there must be more contracts actually going to small businesses, but we will ordain that the procurement system must be run in a way that opens it up to small businesses.
“There are obvious benefits in that. They are more likely to be UK-based, there are more likely to be innovative, it is a more competitive supply market, there’s everything to be said for it… and it will create jobs.”
The Cabinet Office is rolling out a standard pre-qualification questionnaire across Whitehall next month, which Mr Maude has said will be “mandatory” for any central government contract tenders and should reduce paperwork for small businesses