Final leaders’ debate; Cameron would support more SMEs through public procurement

Through the wonders of the Web, you can now read whole transcripts of the party leaders' debates.

I noticed this from David Cameron last Thursday in the final debate:

Let me tell you one thing government could really do to help: government is an enormous purchaser of goods and services, and yet it hardly buys anything from small and medium-sized enterprises. We say government should give a quarter of its contracts to the small firms, the ones that are actually going to be the success stories of tomorrow. Let's make it easier for firms to register with the government, so they can buy services and sell services to the government. That would actually help to get them going, the great businesses of tomorrow. That's what we need to build.

Alistair Darling made a commitment in the budget (reported here) to increase spend with SMEs by 15%,  and I would make the same point as I did then.  EU regulations make it very difficult, in fact probably impossible, to set firm targets for SME contracts.

The Cameron wording raises a further issue; I am sure that SMEs win 'a quarter' of government contracts already if you measure that as the number of contracts.  They may not win a quarter by value.  There is potentially a huge difference in those two metrics; award a million contracts for £100 each and it is still a drop in the public spending ocean.

And on that note, a friend told me of a blog comment or Tweet he saw the other day after politicians had been talking about support for SMEs;

"Government announces preference for SMEs; McKinsey restructures into 10,000 very small Special Purpose Vehicles..."

Or words to that effect.  Only a joke of course, McKinsey are a wonderful firm, some of my best friends etc etc...

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