Record-breaking Government Spending On Small Business. What Do The Figures Mean?

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In a remarkable display of support for the backbone of the British economy, the government's recent announcement of a record-breaking £21 billion spent on procurement from small businesses has sent ripples of optimism through the entrepreneurial landscape. 

This substantial allocation of resources is not just a testament to the potential of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), but also a bold move by the government to drive economic growth from the ground up. As we delve into the depths of this monumental figure, we unravel the significance of this spending spree and its implications for the thriving SME sector.

A Waterfall of Cash for SMEs?

The ringing endorsement of SMEs via this staggering £21 billion investment does appear to underscore the government's commitment to empowering small businesses. It’s an increase of 1.7bn on last year’s figure, and would equal roughly £3.8k per UK-based small business.

In a world often dominated by corporate giants, this move serves as a lifeline for SMEs, offering them unparalleled opportunities to secure government contracts, expand their foothold, and contribute substantially to the national economy.

The infusion of funds into small businesses is akin to watering a garden that yields a bountiful harvest. From technology to construction, healthcare to agriculture, an array of industries have reaped the benefits of this expenditure surge. The commitment to nurturing innovation and dynamism at the grassroots level has led to a surge of success stories across sectors that were once considered out of reach for SMEs.

‘’Today's record-breaking figures demonstrate our commitment to ensure more small businesses benefit from public sector spending, by reducing barriers to entry and encouraging a more diverse market.

One in three pounds of public money is spent on public procurement, which is why through the Procurement Bill we are improving the way it is regulated to save the taxpayer money and drive benefits across every region of the country.’’ - Minister for the Cabinet Office, Jeremy Quin

Indeed, it would seem difficult to argue against this being anything but tangible proof that a fairer-playing-field is finally emerging for small business in the UK.

Missed Targets

Yet, some do argue. While the £21 billion is undoubtedly a watershed moment for SMEs, it's crucial to keep it in perspective. The government's initial aspiration of directing 33 percent of procurement spending towards SMEs remains an unfulfilled ambition. 

Though this record-breaking figure marks significant progress, it still falls short of the envisioned milestone. This discrepancy invites a reflection on the challenges that continue to hinder SMEs from fully capitalising on government procurement opportunities.

Some outspoken key figures in the small business sector have not shied away from airing their views on the matter. And the Government’s bullish comments came in for heavy criticism from Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses;

“The government may be heralding these figures as a success, but its own target is nowhere in sight. In fact, it has fallen woefully short of that figure. The government should own up and confront these blatant shortcomings. Failure to contract with a wide range of businesses is bad for the taxpayer, bad for public services and bad for the economy.”

“The rise in overall procurement spend doesn’t reveal the whole narrative. While the overall spend with small businesses has grown, they’re actually getting a smaller slice of the pie.’’

He went on to describe the latest results of the scheme's success as ‘’window dressing’’, due the lack of ‘’a proper, coherent plan’’.

The road to economic transformation is often paved with hurdles, and the SME sector has faced its fair share. From limited resources to bureaucratic obstacles, the journey to seamlessly integrating SMEs into the procurement landscape is no small feat. 

While the £21 billion infusion is undoubtedly a beacon of hope, it also serves as a reminder that there's still a distance to traverse before the target of 33 percent is within grasp.

Takeaway for small businesses

In the grand scheme of economic rejuvenation, the government's record-breaking spending on small businesses represents a monumental stride towards cultivating a more diverse, resilient, and thriving economy. 

Yes there's work do be done in reaching towards desired spending targets, but it's still a major stride forward.

The £21 billion investment has breathed new life into SMEs, empowering them to compete on larger stages and seize opportunities that were once reserved for the titans of industry.

As the past fades into memory, and the present teems with unprecedented potential, SMEs stand on the precipice of a new era. The government's commitment to their growth is a clarion call for innovation, adaptability, and unwavering tenacity. 

The journey towards fully harnessing SME potential might be fraught with challenges, but the path is illuminated by the rays of possibility that this record-breaking investment has cast upon it.

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James Waller
Content Specialist
Updated on
August 16, 2023

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