News story

Mystery Shopper making a real difference 3 years on

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The government’s Mystery Shopper service continues to improve the way public sector organisations buy goods and services.

Mystery Shopper allows anyone to report issues that they encounter in supplying the public sector, and a review of the impact of the service, which is now 3 years old, shows that 79% of all closed cases have resulted in a positive outcome.

By the end of April 2014, Mystery Shopper had received 640 cases and published all results online.

The Cabinet Office recently extended Mystery Shopper to include spot checking, and from this week are moving to publish the results of cases as they close on a real time basis through a new Twitter account. Mystery Shopper will tweet case outcomes and general findings from spot checks.

Read the 3 years on progress report and keep up-to-date with @govmysteryshop.

Mystery Shopper is just one way in which the government aims to improve procurement processes by opening up business to a wider range of suppliers and supporting on-time payment.

Later this year it will implement Lord Young’s recommendations to introduce 30 day payments down through the supply chain and legislate for public bodies to report their payment performance. The government is making strong progress towards its goal of having 25% of central procurement spend going to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by 2015.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:

Small businesses are our economy’s life-blood. As part of our long-term plan we are ensuring they have the chance to compete for and win government contracts. Before the 2010 general election no one even bothered to monitor what contracts they were getting, but now we know that since then they are winning significantly more contracts.

Mystery Shopper allows small businesses to raise concerns directly about procurement practices.

Stephen Allott, the Crown Representative for SMEs said:

In the past it was far too difficult for SMEs to work with Whitehall, but reforms to how government buys its goods and services in recent years have meant significant increases in the number of small businesses winning contracts.

The role of Mystery Shopper is important because it encourages SMEs to challenge the poor procurement practices that prevent them from winning business in the first place. We want more small firms to know about the service and get involved.