Two thirds of councils failing small businesses, says FMB

Local authorities are blocking smaller businesses from competing for public sector contracts, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has warned, in the light of new research from the Electrical Contractors’ Association that shows over two thirds of councils are neglecting to use a simplified procurement tool recommended for use across the public sector.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, commented:

“It’s no wonder that construction SMEs struggle to win public contracts, when even at the first hurdle, local authorities are failing them. Using standardised pre-qualification questionnaires like PAS 91 is crucial for reducing costs and ensuring that smaller companies have a level playing field in bidding for public sector contracts.

“This is why Central Government has mandated the use of this system and the Local Government Association has backed its use by local authorities. Without a consistent template, even the preliminary stages of a bid become resource intensive, lending an unfair advantage to the larger contractors who have the capacity to absorb paperwork.

“For smaller construction companies – 40 per cent of whom fail to win 9 out of 10 public sector contracts – it creates another unnecessary barrier to what used to be an important market for them.”