Public sector boost for small businesses

August 9, 2023

Closer links with thousands of smaller businesses across North Yorkshire will be built upon to support council services across the county.

Small and medium-sized businesses as well as organisations involved in the voluntary and community sector are already a key focus of North Yorkshire Council for the award of contracts to deliver services. But more support and guidance is set to be given by the council to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and voluntary and community and social enterprises (VCSEs) compete effectively with their larger competitors to secure public sector contracts. The scale of opportunities with the council is expected to see more than £600 million spent on contracts with the private sector during the current financial year alone.

The launch of a single authority to cover the whole of North Yorkshire will bring in millions of pounds of savings by having contracts for a single organisation, helping counter the challenging inflationary pressures amid the cost of living crisis. Cllr Carl Les, NYC leader, said: “We recognise the important role that smaller businesses play in the success of North Yorkshire’s economy, bringing in vital investment and supporting tens of thousands of jobs. “As a council, we have a firm commitment to helping these smaller enterprises flourish, and they are key to helping us deliver services to hundreds of thousands of residents across the county.” 

In North Yorkshire, there are more than 32,700 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises alongside 90 large businesses in the county. By joining up services and maximising spending power in its first few years, North Yorkshire Council is set to recoup between £30 million and £70 million, which will become annual savings. However, the high rate of inflation and growing demand for services such as adult social care will mean difficult decisions and creative solutions will be needed to realise the multi-million pound savings. 

Cllr Gareth Dadd, NYC deputy leader and executive member for finance, whose portfolio includes procurement, said: “The opportunities that we have now as one council to provide efficiencies of scale by signing contracts for a single organisation are set to bring millions of pounds of savings. “These will be especially important as we face such a challenging financial situation with the current level of inflation and the cost of living.” An SME called Go4Growth was recruited in 2021 to design a programme to bridge the gap between smaller enterprises and the public sector. This work has helped smaller, local and diverse organisations to develop the practical skills to enable sustainable growth through accessing and securing opportunities with the public sector.  Go4Growth offers free support for companies aiming to work with the council and other public sector organisations. Through this partnership, 250 suppliers were supported in 2021/22, with 86 per cent categorising themselves as micro-businesses or sole traders and 14 per cent stating they are small businesses.  The new Procurement Bill, which is due to be introduced by the government within the next year, will provide more opportunities of making procurement quicker, simpler and more transparent while still delivering value for money and including specific criteria in deciding the award of contracts. It is hoped that this will level the playing field for SMEs and drive economic growth across the UK by reducing costs and making it easier for businesses which are bidding for contracts.  Go4Growth is staging a series of events to help smaller enterprises forge ahead with securing contracts with the public sector. Topics include finding opportunities in the public sector, writing policies, and promoting businesses, and more details are available at online.

The county council is due to focus on forging links with smaller businesses. (27-07-320 SU)

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