Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Call to give Local Firms in Lincolnshire Access to More Government Contracts

Massive Whitehall procurement budget should help small and medium firms

Giles McNeill, Prospective County Council Candidate, today added his voice to calls for the Government to do more to help local firms in Lincolnshire hit by the economic downturn. Conservatives are demanding that Whitehall opens up the massive £125 billion government procurement budget to small and medium firms across the country.

The government is the biggest purchaser of goods and services in the economy, but Whitehall bureaucracy means that small businesses are locked out of this system. Making it easier for small businesses to win government contracts would provide companies in Lincolnshire - and across the country - with a crucial source of revenue during the downturn, helping to protect local jobs.

The Conservative action plan includes:
• Scrapping the rule requiring companies to provide three years of audited accounts when bidding for government contracts. This unnecessary rule locks start-up companies out of the procurement system – simply because new companies may not have three years of audited accounts.
• Immediately introducing a single questionnaire to be allowed to bid for government contracts worth less than £50,000. This would only have to be filled in once and logged for future contract bids. This will radically reduce the administrative burden involved in bidding for government contracts.
• Requiring all government contracts worth over £10,000 to be published online, so that small companies can for the first time find out exactly what contracts are available. At present, it is not mandatory for contracts to be published online. As a result, over 75 per cent of small and medium firms report that it is difficult to find out about procurement opportunities.
• Aiming for 25 per cent of government contracts to be awarded to small and medium enterprises. This is something that United States federal government does, and would help overcome the risk aversion that leads to them being overlooked for government contracts.

Giles said:
“This is another part of the Conservative action plan for small business, which also includes proposals to defer VAT bills, cut payroll taxes by 1p and reduce the small company corporation tax rate.

“We need to open up the government’s procurement system and get money to small businesses across the country. It’s not just small firms that will be helped – taxpayers will benefit from the innovation and greater efficiency that small businesses can bring to government contracts.

“Small firms in Lincolnshire are facing a very difficult time and jobs are at risk. If Labour Ministers were serious about making a difference, they would adopt this action plan.”

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