An opinion piece in The Daily Telegraph over the weekend, which suggested the UK government was making it difficult for companies to apply for public sector contracts, does not give the whole picture.
It refers to firms such as Aktis Strategy, a former supplier to The Department For International Development and the Foreign Office, which went under after it took on “low margin work which couldn’t make money”.
The comment piece says DFID has a target to “procure more from small businesses, but its procurement process pushes the other way”.
It quotes the testimony of one supplier to DFID, which tendered for a project in Sierra Leone, spending six months working up proposals before the project was scrapped.
The Telegraph did not approach DFID for a comment on the piece.
If they had we would have highlighted how DFID has the second highest spend with small and medium sized companies across government. There are a very small number of tenders we don’t ultimately award.
We’ve also taken a number of actions over the last two years to make it easier for businesses to work with us.
This includes ending agreements that stopped them bidding as part of more than one consortium. We also have requirements in our Code of Conduct, which requires prompt payment of sub-contractors by our suppliers.
The government clearly has a duty to ensure value for money for taxpayers. At the same time companies bidding for government contracts have an expectation of making a reasonable profit.
There is a balance to strike. The number of bids for our contracts has steadily increased over the last few years and new companies have started working with us, suggesting we have got the balance right.