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Initiative launched to help improve public sector procurement opportunities

The Suffolk Growth Programme Board (SGPB), working on behalf of the public sector in the county, has announced it is making excellent headway with a review of procurement practices across Suffolk. 

The aim is to better understand how public sector procurement currently operates, and what can be done in a legal and consistent way to encourage more Suffolk-based firms to tender for and secure contracts.

The size of public sector spend in Suffolk is considerable: in 2017 it was estimated to be £1.9bn.

This review is well aligned to the ambitions set out in the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce manifesto for business, specifically: “improving procurement opportunities so that all public sector partners better engage with local businesses in promoting and deciding upon contracts in their supply chains”.

In the summer, the SGPB commissioned Suffolk Chamber of Commerce to survey local businesses on their recent experiences of pitching for public sector opportunities and what improvements they would like to see implemented.

Nearly 400 firms responded, making this one of the most successful surveys conducted by Suffolk Chamber.

Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council and chair of the Growth Portfolio Holders said “the results and analysis of this survey is a critical step in enabling us to better engage with our local businesses and understand how we can ensure future tender opportunities are publicised and promoted in the local market.” 

Paul Simon, communications manager at Suffolk Chamber, said “thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey. We are now working with our public sector partners to fully understand the full breadth of experiences and opinions expressed in the responses. We hope that these insights, alongside other evidence, will help shape future public sector procurement reforms and that more Suffolk businesses will win more of the county’s public sector contracts.”

The results of this survey, plus those from parallel research into the contracts awarded by the various procurement teams in the Suffolk public sector, are now being analysed to tease out ways in which tendering can be made simpler.

The Suffolk Growth Programme Board has also commissioned Suffolk Chamber to run six workshops across the county to help businesses better understand how they can bid for local public sector contracts.

Amanda Ankin added “we are launching these workshops in response to the requests of dozens of the businesses we surveyed who said they would find the chance to listen and to quiz procurement experts of real use.”

Suffolk Chamber is working with a range of public partners to host six practical workshops aimed at helping local businesses to better understand how to take advantage of local procurement processes and procedures.

 The first three have been announced:

 Wednesday 24 October –Ivy House Country Hotel, Lowestoft

Thursday 29 November – Ashlar House, Bury St Edmunds

Friday 30 November – Ipswich Town Football Club

For further information and to book: https://www.suffolkchamber.co.uk/events-networking/suffolk-chamber-events/

Sue Wilcock