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 £10,000 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 publicprocurementreview@cabinetoffice.gov.uk, 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.

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