Public-sector contracts: government scraps web charges

For the past three years, has advertised thousands of public sector procurement opportunities worth up to £100,000 – but it has charged small businesses and entrepreneurs to search the site.

At last, it’s dropping the fee.

“Small businesses are facing significant pressure in this downturn and new contracts are essential for their return to growth,” comments business minister Shriti Vadera. “We want to support small businesses by making it easier to access the thousands of government procurement opportunities that are directly relevant to them. This free service is an interim step along the way to introducing a single website for all public sector contracts next year.”

Debasish Sen, a committee member of the Federation of Small Businesses, Trade and Industry, welcomes this first step towards creating a free, national online portal that small firms can use to apply for public-sector contracts. “FSB research shows that half of SMEs don’t tender for public contracts because the process is too complicated and the contracts are too difficult to find in the first place. Making free to access is a step in the right direction and something the FSB has been pushing for, for a long time.”

This announcement is a move towards delivering on one of the recommendations outlined in the Glover Review, that by the end of 2010 all public sector contract opportunities should be accessible through a single, free online web portal.

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