IPSE puts pressure on government to improve options for contractors
Although the UK relies heavily on micro-businesses and owner operated companies to provide the flexibility and experience that many firms need, there is one area in which smaller operations are likely to lose out, according to an industry body.
The Association for Independent Professionals and the Self Employed has expressed concerns over the way technology contracts are allocated by government departments, particularly those which are managed through SME portals.
Although IPSE acknowledged that there has been some progress when it comes to the odds of a one-man-band being able to find work from a government department, they are concerned that it’s still unnecessarily hard to actually win a contract.
The body’s comments have been sparked by the revelation on the part of the MPs who have reported that the recent G-Cloud initiative is good news for small businesses and SMEs. They announced that 89 per cent of the projects supply contracts going to such businesses.
Another initiative which was designed to be SME-friendly is Contract Finder, but there are concerns that only 80 per cent of the total jobs available were listed on the service and those who might be able to benefit most from the service were not necessarily aware of its existence.
One of the main problems with the Contract Finder is that the ‘early opportunities’ facility, designed to allow contracting authorities to identify potentially interested parties, is not well-known enough amongst those for whom it was designed.
Despite the fact that this is supposed to open up contracts to a broad range of potential suppliers, IT contracts are being awarded to the same ‘big five’ IT services companies a lot of the time, meaning that 51 per cent of the government’s total IT budget goes to these businesses.
IPSE have complained that this makes it appear that there is something of a ‘closed shop’ when it comes to these contracts, to which the government have responded, saying that they are only in the early stages of changing their approach to the awarding of IT contracts.
More work is planned to ensure that contracts are awarded more fairly, and with freelance bodies exerting pressure all the time, it’s certainly not a practice which will be allowed to continue for long.
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