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SNP accused of failing small firms

SMEs ‘miss out’ on procurement contracts

Jackie Baillie

Jackie Baillie: SMEs deserve more government support (pic: Terry Murden)


Small firms have missed out on more than £10 million of public funding as more government contracts are awarded to bigger companies, according to Scottish Labour.

The party says that since SNP administration assumed majority control in 2012, Scottish Government procurement spending on SMEs has fallen from 37% to 32% in 2016, the latest available figures.

The fall means that SMEs have lost out on a total of £10.6m in government contracts, says Labour.

Scottish Labour revealed the figure when it unveiled its Small Business Strategy, which includes the appointment of a minister for small business and a commitment to increasing the spending on procurement together with increasing the share of Scottish Government procurement spending going to SMEs. 

Labour said it will restructure the size of contracts and make the tendering process less burdensome so that it is easier for SMEs to bid.

Its strategy will also attempt to tackle the late payment problem by requiring any company working on a public sector contract to pay its suppliers within 30 days.

It will also:

  • Improve access to finance for small business and make it easier to conduct business in Scotland
  • Introduce annual revaluations of business rates to ensure the system is fair, transparent and easy to understand
  • Boost the availability of apprenticeships in SMEs and get better outcomes from the apprenticeship levy

Economy spokesman Jackie Baillie said: “These are really disappointing figures. That is vital money that could be going to support small business, but instead they have been starved of cash by the SNP.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are the life-blood of our economy and deserve more support from the government.

‘That is why our new Small Business Strategy will include a commitment that a Scottish Labour government would increase spending on procurement, growing the opportunities for SMEs in the delivery of public sector contracts.

“Rather than denying SMEs cash and opportunity, a Labour government will help them grow through investment.”

Scottish Labour said the changes were necessary because of the SNP government’s complacency over growing the economy.

Today’s strategy report says the SNP government has failed to meet almost every economic target it has set itself and allowed small business confidence in Scotland to fall well behind the rest of the UK

Ms Baillie added: “Small businesses are the life blood of the Scottish economy and there is such potential to help them grow, providing jobs at the heart of our communities and a much needed boost to our economy.

Labour’s Small Business Strategy outlines a clear path to give businesses and entrepreneurs across Scotland the support and investment they need.

For too long, the SNP government has failed to support small business, either ignoring it or arbitrarily attempting to raid it for funds through its shambolic business rates hikes.”

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Comment: Brian Monteith

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