Guest Blog: Small Business Crown Representative makes prompt payment a priority

Martin Traynor has been appointed as the government’s new Small Business Crown Representative. What can ADS members expect from his time in the role?

I’m delighted to take on the role of Small Business Crown Representative – a position designed to drive a better relationship between the government and small businesses, by advising ministers on the government’s engagement with them, and identifying the barriers small firms face when working with government.

I come from a business background and understand many of the issues that businesses face. I am currently Chairman of three leisure businesses, Deputy Chairman of a large NHS trust. Throughout, I have worked to try to improve the conditions smaller businesses face.

The opportunity – and the commitment

The government spends around £50bn a year on a huge range of goods and services from businesses right across the country. This represents a huge opportunity for the UK’s five million SMEs. Government is committed to spending one pound in three with SMEs and to see they are paid promptly.

So what are my priorities?

I’m fully support the government’s aspiration to spend more with SMEs, both directly and through supply chains. I work with colleagues across government to make contracts more accessible to SMEs. I will also be working with our larger suppliers to ensure that supply chain opportunities are open to SMEs.

Prompt payment is a key priority. I welcomed recently announced measures to exclude bidders from major government procurements if they cannot demonstrate fair payment practices with their subcontractors.

ADS’s members who bid for major government contracts to should review their payment practices and performance, and do all they can to meet the expected standard of paying 95% of invoices within 60 days. If they are not, it’s vital to show how they are making necessary improvements now, in time for the September 2019 deadline.

This will build on existing measures already out there: Large companies should be publishing their payment performance on gov.uk following the introduction of the Payment and Performing Reporting requirements. The government has also published guidance for public sector buyers on the new measure, which you may find useful.

ADS members can find out about government opportunities, and many more from across the public sector, on the government’s Contracts Finder website. If you find a contract opportunity that seems unfair you can report it to the Public Procurement Review Service.

I will be working with colleagues from across government to tackle barriers to SMEs in our procurement processes, and won’t hesitate to recommend changes that will make it easier for SMEs to do business with government.

Moving this whole agenda forward is going to be a significant task. I very much welcome ADS’s continued support, the support of its members, and I look forward to working with your businesses.

If members have any thoughts, ideas, or observations, then please feel free to contact me at martin.traynor@cabinetoffice.gov.uk