Small and Medium Business Hub
Centralised guidance for SMEs and departments on government’s commitment to support start-ups and small businesses via government procurement, and commit to paying them on time.
Government has a commitment to obtain value for money and support small businesses and start-ups through procurement. We understand the challenges and barriers, especially for smaller firms, and are committed to tackling them. We want to tackle obstacles that they face when supplying or contracting with government departments and agencies.
How are we supporting the commitment?
Paying suppliers on time
Government has a target of paying 90% of its invoices within 5 days, and all of them within 30 days, to ensure we pay our suppliers on time. Each department reports their payment performance progress and it has been listed within ‘How are the central departments supporting SMEs?’ (below).
Since 1 September 2019, any organisation that bids for a central government contract in excess of £5 million a year needs to demonstrate it has effective payment systems in place to ensure a reliable supply chain.
As a part of this, the government has set a standard of 95% of all supply chain invoices to be paid within 60 days for organisations who want to do business with government. Suppliers who do not comply with the Prompt Payment standard could be prevented from winning government contracts. This will help ensure good payment practice gets passed down to small subcontractors.
Increasing visibility of tenders and contracts
Register with Contracts Finder to keep updated on new and upcoming contracts worth over £12,500 with the government and its agencies.
You can use Contracts Finder to:
- search for contract opportunities in different sectors
- find out what’s coming up in the future
- look up details of previous tenders and contracts
From 1 January 2021, you will also be able to use Find a Tender to view public procurement notices published by UK contracting authorities. You will still be able to use existing portals such as Contracts Finder, MOD Defence Contracts Online, Public Contracts Scotland, Sell2Wales and eTendersNI to view low value or location specific notices.
Helping strengthen procurements and reclaim monies owed
The Public Procurement Review Service (PPRS) sits within the Cabinet Office and allows government suppliers and potential government suppliers to raise concerns anonymously about potentially poor public sector procurement practice.
If you have a concern you’d like to raise about a procurement process or a problem with payment on a public contract you can let them know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will investigate for you.
PPRS report on the trends in the issues raised, and makes recommendations on how to improve. They also publish monthly results from their investigations.
Working with SMEs and removing barriers
The SME advisory panel, made up of entrepreneurs and leading business figures boasting a wide range of experience, is working with the government to remove barriers and increase spend in goods and services with small and medium-sized enterprises. The panel was formed in November 2016 and are currently looking at strands of government procurement activity.
Working with departments and monitoring delivery
The Cabinet Office Small Business team works with the departments and external stakeholders to:
- capture and continue to improve the quality of central government spend data
- oversee the development, publication and delivery of SME Action Plans
- ensure effective performance management and sharing of best practice on SMEs across departments
- ensure effective stakeholder engagement with SMEs, working with sector bodies, the SME advisory panel and the Crown Representative for SMEs
How are the central departments supporting SMEs?
Departments have appointed SME Champions to lead on supporting SMEs. They have also created their own individual plan. Each plan details the steps they plan to take to make it easier to do business, how to become a supplier, and what they are achieving to increase spend with SMEs.
Cabinet Office - SME Action Plan
Crown Commercial Service - SME Action Plan
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory - SME Action Plan
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy - SME Action Plan
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport - SME Action Plan
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - SME Action Plan
Department for Education - SME Action Plan
Department for Business and Trade - SME Action Plan
Department of Health and Social Care - SME Action Plan
Department for Transport - SME Action Plan
Department for Work and Pensions - SME Action Plan
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office - SME Action Plan
HM Revenue and Customs - SME Action Plan
Ministry of Defence - SME Action Plan
Ministry of Justice - SME Action Plan
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority - SME Action Plan
How do we measure success?
SME spend data
The government wants small and medium sized enterprises to benefit from central government procurement spend, either directly or indirectly via the supply chain.
Reports on this aspiration, Central government spend with SMEs, are published on GOV.UK on an annual basis.
Departments have a number of case studies about how they are working with SMEs, and making it easier for small businesses to win government and public sector contracts.
Minister of state - Jeremy Quin
Small Business Commissioner - An independent public body set up by government under the Enterprise Act 2016 to tackle late payment and unfavourable payment practices in the private sector
SME Crown representative - Martin Traynor
Upcoming deals with CCS - Framework opportunities to join and win government work
Social Value - Information and guidance on the Social Value Act
Modern Slavery - Information and guidance on the Modern Slavery Act
SME: Selling to Government Guide - This guide provides advice for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) on how to bid for and win government contracts.
The Sourcing Playbook - Government guidance on service delivery, including outsourcing, insourcing, mixed economy sourcing and contracting
The Consultancy Playbook - Government guidance on how to commission and engage with consultants more effectively, achieving better outcomes, better value for money and improved Civil Service capability through the transfer of knowledge and skills
Procurement Policy Notes - Guidance on best practice for procurement for public sector organisations, together with supporting documentation
Consortia guidance - coming soon. When published this guide will give support on bidding for Public Procurement opportunities as a group of suppliers in a Consortium
Keep up to date by following accounts:
- SME Crown Representative
- Small Business Commissioner @SB_Commissioner
- Public Procurement Review Service @govPPRS
- Crown Commercial Service LinkedIn @gov_procurement
- Cabinet Office LinkedIn
- Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy LinkedIn
- Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport LinkedIn
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs LinkedIn
- Department for Business and Trade LinkedIn
- Department for Education LinkedIn
- Department for Transport LinkedIn
- Department of Health and Social Care LinkedIn
- Department for Work and Pensions LinkedIn
- Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office LinkedIn, @FCDOprocurement
- HM Revenue and Customs LinkedIn
- HM Treasury LinkedIn
- Home Office LinkedIn
- Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government LinkedIn
- Ministry of Defence LinkedIn, @defenceproc, @dstlmod, @DASAccelerator
- Ministry of Justice LinkedIn @MoJGovUK
- Nuclear Decommissioning Authority LinkedIn
For queries relating to the work of the Small Business Team, email email@example.com
Last updated 23 March 2023 + show all updates
Updated the Helpful link entry for Minister of State to Jeremy Quin
Updated the following text to reflect the updated figure of £12,500: Register with Contracts Finder to keep updated on new and upcoming contracts worth over £10,000 with the government and its agencies
Updated to reflect the change from Department for International Trade to Department for Business and Trade
Added link to Cabinet Office - SME Action Plan. Updated the links to Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy - SME Action Plan, Department for Transport - SME Action Plan, Home Office - SME Action Plan
Added link to latest Home Office SME action plan.
Updated the section 'How are the central departments supporting SMEs?' to include a link to the page 'Cabinet Office Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Action Plan'
Link added to the Selling to Government Guide
Updated link to the new Home Office SME Action Plan.
Added links to the Sourcing and Consultancy playbooks.
A Department for Education case study has been added to the case study section.
The 'How are the central departments supporting SMEs?' section has been updated to link to the'Defence Science and Technology Laboratory - SME Action Plan'.
Updated to link to new action plans for Department for International Trade and Department of Health and Social Care