The Government is committed to ensuring that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have fair access to public sector contracts in Scotland, as specified in the Scottish Government's Economic Recovery Programme.
SMEs - whether businesses, social enterprises or third sector bodies - make a significant contribution to the delivery of public services in Scotland and to the supply of good and works to the Scottish public sector. They are often ideally placed to provide innovative solutions to public sector requirements and to deliver value for money, either individually or as part of a consortium.
Procurement Policy Handbook
Our Procurement Policy Handbook provides public sector buyers with guidance on working with suppliers, and recommends that:
- tender costs be kept to a minimum, and
- barriers to participation by small firms, the self-employed and third sector are removed.
We have also produced a more detailed Buyers Guide to working with SMEs which outlines the barriers that businesses face and how SMEs can be assisted in bidding for work to ensure that they are not unduly discriminated against in the procurement process.
Six Simple Steps
The Scottish Government has also outlined that it expects all Scottish public bodies to take the following six steps:
1. Adopt the "Suppliers' Charter" - which commits public bodies to improving the way they work with businesses.
2. Use the Public Contracts Scotland advertising portal. Public bodies should:
- publish their "buyer profile" on the portal - to help suppliers find out quickly and cheaply whether a public body is a potential customer
- advertise as many contract opportunities as possible and publish contract award notices - to give suppliers free access to contract opportunities across the Scottish public sector
- use the 'quick quote' facility for very low value contracts - to allow suppliers to bid for very low value contracts with the minimum of bureaucracy.
3. Review contract award procedures - to ensure that they place the minimum possible burden on suppliers, for example through use of a core supplier questionnaire.
4. Use outcome based tender specifications wherever possible - to allow businesses to propose innovative and alternative solutions to public sector business needs.
5. Include in their terms and conditions a requirement that contractors pay any sub-contractors within 30 days of receipt of a valid invoice - to ensure that sub-contractors, as well as contractors, receive prompt payment.
6. Monitor spend with SMEs - use data from the Scottish Procurement Information Hub to monitor spend with SMEs. Monitoring spend by way of a Best Practice Indicator (BPI) will enable public bodies to demonstrate the success of the other activities.