Mark Taylor of Lucas Fettes & Partners is amongst 24 business experts on an advisory panel put together by The Cabinet Office under plans to boost government spending with SMEs.
The SME advisory panel met for the first time on Tuesday 15 November. Its remit is to help ensure that by 2020 £1 of every £3 invested by Whitehall in goods and services goes to small and medium-sized enterprises. The panel was established in 2011, but this is the first year that its membership has included representation from the insurance sector.
The Cabinet Office has estimated that 27% of government’s procurement spending, or £12.1 billion, reached SMEs in 2014-15, surpassing its target of 25%. An advisory panel supported this work and a number of its members sit on the current panel alongside new members, to help government achieve its aim to increase its spending with SMEs to 33% by 2020.
"I'm looking forward to working with government to increase its spend with SMEs. As a government supplier, I will use my experience to work with government to simplify the procurement process.
Lucas Fettes recently became a supplier to the Crown Commercial Service’s Insurance Services 2 Framework, as part of a strategic effort to grow our position within the public-sector market. Through first-hand experience, I’m well placed to discuss the challenges facing SME businesses when attempting to enter a highly regulated, conservative sector, where there is an established dominance of major international brokers.
We do a great deal of work within the education, charity and healthcare sectors but, like other UK independent brokers, have historically struggled with a number of barriers (or perceived barriers) to tendering for central government work in particular. Despite smaller–medium sized brokers being entirely capable of delivering many of the required services and skillsets, our industry is dominated by an oligopoly that is self-perpetuating. I hope we can contribute to changing that status quo.
If Government is to bridge the gap from 27% to 33%, then I believe it is in sectors such as ours where exponential “growth” opportunities exist. I would also expect to see a “trickle down” effect of change to the wider public sector.”
If Government meets it target, it would mean almost £3 billion of new business up for grabs by UK SMEs each year, either directly or through the supply chain.
Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said:
“The business experts [on the panel] will play a vital role to help us increase spending with SMEs, which are the lifeblood of the UK economy. Government is firmly on the side of entrepreneurs and we will do everything we can to make their lives easier. That’s why we have asked business experts to work with us towards our aim that £1 in every £3 of government procurement spending should go to SMEs by 2020.”
John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office, said:
"Government is open for business and wants to work with more smaller businesses across the UK. These 24 business experts from across the UK will help government improve the procurement process so it is simpler, clearer and faster for SMEs."
Leading entrepreneur Emma Jones MBE, the Crown Representative for SMEs, will work closely with the 24 experts to help more small businesses in the UK bid for and win government contracts.
Emma said: “Becoming a government supplier is a great way to make a difference to your business. Companies report an increase in their turnover, higher profits and an expansion of their workforce. In return, small and medium-sized enterprises offer innovation and value for money to government customers.”