IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, has today welcomed an investigation by the National Audit Office over allegations that Capita breached terms of a government contract and froze out smaller businesses from the procurement process.
The terms of the Civil Service Learning Deal dictated that 51% of the contracts were to be delivered by smaller businesses.
However by blocking smaller firms winning work and engaging in late payment of invoicing and fees, Capita stands accused of breaching the terms of the contract and engaging in anticompetitive practices.
Andy Chamberlain, Deputy Director of Policy and External Affairs, said:
“The NAO are right to investigate accusations of supply chain bullying and anti-competitiveness in government contracts. Government should be supporting the UK’s small businesses by making contracts as accessible as possible.”
The government aspires for 25% of its spending to flow to SMEs and IPSE calls for a quarter of that to go to microbusinesses. If government wants to achieve this it must simplify and make fairer the bidding process for government contracts. Breaking up big contracts and allowing collaborations of micro businesses to bid are just two examples of ways government could do this.
Chamberlain continued: “Abolishing PQQs from the procurement process is a positive step towards a fairer process but it is clear much more is required from government to level the playing field.”