The government has set itself a target of spending £1 in every £3 with small businesses by 2020 but our Midlands manufacturing firm, Howells Patent Glazing, are questioning how feasible the ambitious procurement goal is.
With The Education Funding Agency (EFFA) commencing the first phase of its hunt for contractors for its £6billion construction framework in May 2016, small businesses, even the ones who previously held relationships with local councils and contractors, are missing out on their slice of the pie it seems. An article in the latest edition of Construction News announced that Kier secured nearly 40% of all contracts on the EFFA’s main contractor framework, followed by huge names in the industry such as Bowmer & Kirkland, Galliford Try, Bam, Wates, Carillion and Sir Robert McAlpine.
These statistics have left firms like ours at Howells Patent Glazing thinking about our regional framework. According to the gov.uk website, the list of contractors appointed on the regional procurement framework was all too familiar. Contrary to the government’s vision of opening their doors to a more competitive market place, the new approach to council procurement seems to create an increasingly difficult barrier to trading direct with once previously accessible council clients.
Tracey Jackson, marketing manager here at Howells Patent Glazing said, “We know we have great products and we know our clients; having worked closely with local councils in the past, and having built those relationships over our 40+ years of manufacture and development. Years of developing relationships based on our reputation is now a thing of the past as we are left to cosy up to the main contractors, which can be hit and miss to say the least. But I guess it swings both ways. There are contractors with whom we have worked in the past, who know us, trust us and use our products and always send us enquiries that come their way – we are lucky in that sense. There are smaller businesses than ours who have lost everything.”
This new approach to government and council procurement seems entirely biased towards main contractors, so the advice to fellow SME’s from Howells Patent Glazing is to keep chipping away at those who get the contracts, and try and get the business’s name out there. Keep an eye out for contract award notices if and when they are published, and keep knocking on those doors.
Tracey Jackson concluded, “Apparently there are increasing targets for government spending with SME’s, so maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you’ve had success with local authorities in the past, then Howells Patent Glazing would love to hear your story.”