Suffolk businesses poised to win larger share of county’s £2bn public spend pot

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce wants to help local firms secure a larger slice of the £2bn spent by pub

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce wants to help local firms secure a larger slice of the £2bn spent by public bodies in the county Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS - Credit: Archant

Suffolk firms are being given a helping hand to help them win a larger slice of the county’s sizeable £2bn worth of public sector spending.

In 2017, about 53% of Suffolk's £1.9bn worth of public procurement went to firms in the county, but Suffolk Chamber of Commerce thinks local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can do better.

The chamber and the Suffolk Growth Programme Board (SGPB) have jointly produced a new online tool to help them pitch for contracts.

MORE - Suffolk businesses face 'pivotal' period as manufacturers battle falling salesThe Fit To Bid diagnostic tool is available at by clicking on 'Business Support' and then 'Fit to Bid'.

It has been been designed with input from procurement leads from the NHS, police, health commissioners, higher education professionals and local councils and addresses some of the common barriers to procurement highlighted in an earlier survey of SMEs and shows how to overcome them.

Amanda Ankin, operations director at Suffolk Chamber, said the tool was a "key part" of a unique partnership between the chamber and the SGPB, working on behalf of the public sector in the county.

"As well as gathering together the views and experiences of nearly 400 Suffolk SMEs, we have partnered with the SGPB in delivering six very successful workshops across the county which have allowed many SMEs to get better able to successfully bid for public sector contracts. More are planned from October onwards.

"It's great that this unique collaboration between a chamber and the public sector is now moving into its next phase."

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The chamber set out its aim to improve procurement opportunities for local firms in its manifesto for business "so that all public sector partners better engage with local businesses in promoting and deciding upon contracts in their supply chains".

SGPB chair Stephen Baker said: "This tool is the next step in our programme of work aimed at ensuring our firms are well placed to bid for the contracts that are tendered across the Suffolk public sector.

Councillor Nick Gowrley, who is in charge of economic development at Suffolk County Council said the authority was committed to developing its procurement processes to deliver the greatest economic and social value from public sector spend.

"I believe this tool will be of significant benefit to our SME sector and will improve firms' ability to bid for work in the future."