The Small Business Service and Office of Government Commerce have announced plans for a new web site to provide businesses with direct access to local and central government business opportunities. The launch follows successful SME procurement pilot schemes in the West Midlands and Haringey, and comes as a response to recommendations laid out in the 2003 Better Regulation Task Force/Small Business Council report on reducing barriers for businesses that wish to become involved in public procurement. While the new portal is intended to assist all businesses, the SBS and OGC believe it will primarily benefit the 4 million SMEs that make up 99 per cent of UK companies. It is hoped that the service will become the main gateway to government opportunities that do not exceed the e200,000 threshold which legally requires them to be advertised throughout the European Union.

Small Business and Enterprise Minister Nigel Griffiths said “I want to make sure that small firms of all types have access to a slice of the public sector procurement cake. By developing a national portal to bring together buyers and sellers we can cut the time and effort that small firms spend hunting for contracts while increasing the options available to public sector buyers, helping to ensure better value for money for the taxpayer.”

Also this month the SBS launched two new guides to help small businesses raise appropriate funding. The No-Nonsense Guide to Small Business Funding and the No-Nonsense Guide to Finance for High Growth Companies are both available as free downloads from the SBS website.

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