By Claire West

Every small business in the UK will now have free access to thousands of lower value government contracts on the Government’s website www.supply2.gov.uk

For three years, supply2.gov.uk has advertised thousands of public sector procurement opportunities worth up to £100,000 — making the website ideally suited to small and medium sized businesses.

The fee that was previously charged to search the site across the UK will now be removed, providing firms with better access to public sector contracts to help their businesses grow.

Business Minister Shriti Vadera said:

“Small businesses are facing significant pressure in this downturn and new contracts are essential for their return to growth.

“We want to support small businesses by making it easier to access the thousands of Government procurement opportunities that are directly relevant to them.

“This free service is an interim step along the way to introducing a single website for all public sector contracts next year.”

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Ian Pearson said:

"Small and medium sized businesses are a crucial part of the UK economy and in these challenging times it is essential that we support them in as many ways as possible.

"By introducing a free to use national search service we are helping to create a level playing field on which SMEs can compete with their larger counterparts. This will realise benefits for SMEs, the economy as a whole, and help drive further innovation in public services.

Debasish Sen, Federation of Small Businesses Trade and Industry committee member, said:

[i]“The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has been working closely with the Government to put better policies on procurement in place and we welcome this first step to create a free, national, on-line portal that small firms can use to apply for public sector contracts next year.

“FSB research shows that half of SMEs do not tender for public contracts because the process is too complicated and the contracts are too difficult to find in the first place. Making supply2.gov free to access is a first step in the right direction and something the FSB has been pushing for, for a long time.”

Searching for lower-value contracts across the UK was previously only available as part of a commercial subscription service, which cost up to £180 per year.
This announcement is a move towards delivering on a key recommendation outlined in the Glover Review - that by the end of 2010 all public sector contract opportunities should be accessible through a single, free online web portal.