In the ‘Unlocking the Barriers’ report, the NECC recommends that a series of improvements are made to the public procurement process to help regional businesses tap into the North East public sector supply chain.
Each year the regional public sector spends an estimated £3.5 billion on goods and services, and represents a significant slice of regional business opportunities.
NECC Director of Policy, Ross Smith, said: “The sheer size of the public sector within the North East means that it forms an important part of the market for many businesses in the region. However, many perceive barriers reducing the opportunity to compete for public sector contracts.
“With public spending in the North East 7% higher than the UK average, the opportunities from selling to the public sector are potentially greater in this region.
“If we make more opportunities open to North East firms here, it will also bolster their chances of winning similar work outside the region.”
NECC findings have previously indicated that since the onset of the recession, the region has witnessed a weak pattern of private sector investment. Mr Smith believes that this highlights the importance of public procurement markets.
“Businesses’ ability to win work in this sector is critical to the success of many individual firms as well as to the regional economy as a whole.” He continued.
The survey was produced in partnership with Dickinson Dees law firm, and focussed on the crucial pre-qualification stage which the public sector uses to shortlist potential suppliers.
Deborah Ramshaw, head of Procurement at the firm worked closely with the NECC on the report.
She commented: “ We believe that the implementation of the recommendations contained within it would make a real difference to suppliers seeking greater access to the public sector market both within the North East region and further afield.”
The NECC is now calling for improvements to the PQQ debriefing process, a requirements checklist for procurers and improvements to the transparency of PQQ evaluation to provide clear guidance for regional firms looking to secure contracts.
Mr Smith believes that the adoption of these suggestions would allow businesses in the region to compete more effectively for contracts.
He added: “Regional local authorities face an £800m reduction in capital spending over three years. In the current drive to make efficiencies, there is focus on maximising procurement value. At the same time, businesses are concerned that the economic impact of procurement decisions is well understood and influences decisions.
“We hope to see these recommendations widely adopted within the North East’s public sector, and future opportunities for engagement between suppliers and procurers are grasped to ensure the process of improvement continues.”