The minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, has announced new legislation that should significantly benefit independent professionals, such as Umbrella Company Employees, who are interested in public sector contracting.

The new measures, which came into force in February, mean that:

  • All participants in the supply chain, including suppliers and sub-contractors, will be obliged to comply with 30-day payment terms.
  • All public bodies will be required to publish late payment reports annually, rendering their accounting more publicly transparent.
  • Complex forms that have deterred independent professionals and SMEs, such as the notorious pre-qualification questionnaires or PQQs, are now abolished for smaller, low-value contracts.
  • There will be a significant widening of the procurement process for public sector contracts.

Mr Maude also revealed that the government awarded a record 26.1% of its spend to SMEs last year; in addition, the government’s Contracts Finder website, which covers present and forthcoming contracts worth more than £10,000 in central government and £25,000 in the wider public sector, has been revamped with improved search functions and will now allow prospective contract seekers to search by location.

The new measures were welcomed by IPSE, with the organisation’s deputy director of policy and external affairs, Andy Chamberlain, saying: “Any action to make it easier for the smallest businesses to gain government contracts should be welcomed. Simplifying the procurement process by removing PQQs is long overdue and is crucial to create a level playing field for the UK’s smallest businesses to win government contracts.”

While he welcomed measures to tackle late payment, Mr Chamberlain also called on government to tackle the culture of late pay by big business.

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