There are many economic and environmental benefits to be gained from using small, local businesses but in both private and public sector construction, unhelpful procurement practices are limiting access for many construction SMEs.
Over a quarter of construction output is commissioned by the public sector and therefore its procurement practices exert significant influence on the industry. However, despite the Government’s stated intentions to increase its procurement from SMEs, many construction SMEs are finding it difficult to win this type of work.
The key problems facing construction SMEs when attempting to engage in the public procurement process include the:
- Resource intensive pre-qualification process;
- Poor implementation of framework agreements by some public sector clients – which can result in the exclusion of smaller firms;
- Lack of visibility of public sector contracts suitable for SMEs.
Consultation across the UK
Although public sector procurement practices are devolved powers and therefore vary widely across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the FMB is constantly consulting members in each of the nations and identifying solutions to the problems they face in order to ensure that construction SMEs are not squeezed out of this vital market.
In 2013, the FMB produced a detailed research report examining public procurement in England and made 16 sensible and achievable recommendations to central government, local government and industry, as to how construction SMEs can start winning their fair share of this work.
For further information download Improving public procurement for construction SMEs (PDF, 2MB).