How small businesses can win public sector contracts

The Small Business Crown Representative ensures that the government gets the best value from small business and that small businesses have the best possible opportunity to work with the government.

In this blog, new Small Business Crown Representative, Martin Traynor OBE, explains his priorities for the new role and how small businesses can win public sector contracts.

What is the role of the Small Business Crown Representative?

Small Business Government Contracts

I’m delighted to take on the role of Small Business Crown Representative and to build on the excellent work of my predecessor, Emma Jones. I have been asked to lead on the overall relationship between the government and small businesses, advise ministers on the government’s engagement with them, and to identify the barriers they face when working with government.

The government buys a wide range of goods and services from businesses right across the country. This ranges from major rail and road projects, through to fresh food and specialised services to help people find work.

Currently, central government spends around £50 billion a year in third party contracts. These contracts represent a huge opportunity for many of the UK’s five million small businesses.

How small businesses can find government contracts

One of the easiest ways businesses can find out about these opportunities, and many more from across the public sector, is by heading to the government’s Contracts Finder website. Contracts Finder lets you search for information about contracts worth over £10,000 with the government and its agencies.

I will be working with colleagues from across government to tackle the barriers to our procurement processes and to recommend changes that will make it easier for small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to do business with government.

To help us identify the challenges, if you find a contract opportunity which seems unfair, then please report this to the Public Procurement Review Service who investigate concerns and can make recommendations for improvement.

Increasing procurement spend to SMEs

Since my appointment I’ve met with some of government’s major business services suppliers and with our SME Advisory Panel – 22 entrepreneurs who advise government on how we can increase the amount of procurement spend flowing to SMEs. Oliver Dowden, the then Minister for Implementation, attended both of those meetings and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to seeing one in every three pounds of contract spend finding its way to SMEs and to ensure they are paid promptly.

I’m fully behind the government’s aspiration to spend more with SMEs, both directly and through the supply chains. This means working with colleagues across government to make contracts more accessible to SMEs and structured in a way so that SMEs can bid and have a fair crack of the whip. I will also be working with our larger suppliers to ensure that supply chain opportunities are open to our SMEs.

Ensuring small businesses are paid on time

As part of this exercise, we also need to ensure that SMEs are paid promptly. That is why I welcome the recently announced measures to exclude those suppliers from major government procurements if they cannot demonstrate fair and effective payment practices with their subcontractors.

I therefore urge all businesses with major government contracts to urgently review their own payment practices and performance to ensure they are meeting the expected standards. If they are not, then it’s vital to make the necessary improvements now, in time for the 1 September 2019 deadline.

About Martin Traynor OBE

Martin Traynor OBE comes from a business background, with much of his early career spent in the hospitality sector, managing various hotels across the UK. He then spent 14 years as Group Chief Executive of Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce (including the Business Link service). In recent years, Martin moved to a portfolio career where he is now a Non-Executive Chairman of three leisure businesses, Deputy Chairman of a large teaching hospital trust, and has just completed two three-year terms on the government’s Regulatory Policy Committee.

Should you have any suggestions for Martin on his new role, then contact him at

See also

SMEs: managing your health and safety responsibilities

SMEs: a guide to growing your business using PPC

Are job-hopping employees bad for your business?

Find out more

Contracts Finder

Image: Getty Images