Encouraging SMEs to bid for public contracts
Produced in partnership with Walker Morris
Encouraging SMEs to bid for public contracts

The following Public Law practice note Produced in partnership with Walker Morris provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Encouraging SMEs to bid for public contracts
  • Brexit impact—public procurement
  • Improving SME access to public procurement
  • Procurement policies in support of SME participation in public sector contracts
  • Rules and requirements supporting SME access to public procurement
  • Publishing on Contracts Finder
  • Pre-qualification and selection
  • Prompt payment requirements and reporting
  • Subcontracting
  • Exclusions and exceptions
  • More...

This Practice Note looks at initiatives intended to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to bid for public contracts without infringing EU public procurement rules. It summarises the gradual reforms at EU and UK level introduced with the aim of improving SME access to public contracts and identifies some of the best practice guidance for contracting authorities.

For further guidance on public procurement aimed at bidders, see Practice Notes: Public procurement—an introduction for first-time bidders and Public procurement—private sector considerations.

Brexit impact—public procurement

The UK public procurement regime derives from EU public procurement laws, and is therefore impacted by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. For general updates on the process and preparations for Brexit, see: Brexit timeline. For further reading on the impact of Brexit on public procurement, see Practice Note: Brexit—the implications for public procurement.

Improving SME access to public procurement

The last decade has seen a significant change of attitude on the part of the EU, the UK government and the UK devolved administrations as regards the opening up of public contracts for smaller suppliers.

In 2018, this issue came to the fore with the collapse of facilities management and construction company Carillion, a major government supplier with hundreds of public sector contracts in place at the time (see below).

Local authorities can, with some justification, claim to have a better track record regarding contracts with SMEs but

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