Can I have a business energy contract if I work from home?
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Smaller businesses are being urged to compete for their share of the Government’s outsourcing budget. How can SMEs get a piece of the public sector pie?
Ministers have recently revealed that they want to increase the number of contracts that are awarded to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) so they receive a third of overall spending: this would mean more than £14.4 billion a year of business for such companies.
Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock says that the Government has made changes to its procurement rules so that it’s easier for small firms to bid for public-sector contracts. These include ensuring that all businesses in the supply chain are paid within 30 days, publishing details of contracts on a central online database, and simplifying the bidding process by abolishing time-consuming ‘pre-qualification questionnaires’ in many cases.
“This is such an amazing opportunity for the country’s diverse and innovative small businesses, and today I urge them to get stuck in,” Hancock says. “From computers to uniforms – there are so many opportunities for small businesses to work with us, and I want to see more of them providing value for money for the taxpayer and benefiting from our spending.”
So, how do you go about bidding for government business – and what potential pitfalls are there to look out for?
The first step should be to consult the Contract Finders database. It provides information about deals worth £10,000 or more. You can search for opportunities by sector, as well as look at upcoming work and details of previous tenders.
By signing up, you can opt to receive email updates of potentially relevant contracts so you don’t miss out on potential business. Contract Finders only covers work in England. Elsewhere in the UK, consult Public Contracts Scotland, Sell2Wales and eSourcing NI.
Many local authorities and public-sector organisations keep lists of possible suppliers for different types of work – and this is especially the case when it comes to low-value contracts. It could be worth getting in touch directly with any organisation you think you could help.
The government has made it simpler to bid for work but nonetheless, the tender process will take some time and effort on your part. This means you have to choose what you bid for carefully so you have a chance of winning and don’t waste your time.
In the application process, the organisation you’re dealing with will want to hear why your company is their best option. You need to be able to explain why they should pick you. As a small business, you are likely to be cheaper and more flexible than larger rivals, so focus on strengths such as these and provide evidence for any claims you make.
According to the Cabinet Office, the government is looking for SMEs to provide innovative solutions, so if you have an idea of how services or goods could be provided more efficiently, speak up.
Whether you’re successful or not, be sure to ask for feedback about your application: this will give you extra insight to help with any future bids.
"Very easy. Bea Luseni very efficient & knowledgeable."This review was posted by Alan Duffy on the 31st of March 2017
Super helpful and easy to work with
"Recommend this company in a heartbeat - Nicole Borneuf was super easy to talk to, was not pushy in the slightest, very helpful and replied with all my questions very professionally and did all she could to help. I had to deal with a few companies to sort my business energy out, all but Nicole were too pushy for my liking and I refused to follow through with them. Thank Nicole - you are a credit to your company, thank you for making the stressful energy change so easy."This review was posted by Mia Drew on the 29th of March 2017
An Extremely Competent Company
"Switch my business has not only helped my SME secure a good energy deal for the second year running but Jessica swiftly found a alternative supplier for me when I was let down on the day of switching by the new contractual provider I had chosen some 4 months previously. Being suddenly out of contract and without provider is everyone's energy nightmare. Greatest thanks."This review was posted by S McMillan on the 29th of March 2017
Helpful, friendly and we saved lots of money!
"Jessica Purnell was helpful and friendly, she made the whole process easy and simple AND we saved lots of money thanks Jess"This review was posted by Melanie Baker on the 23rd of March 2017
Quick & Easy
"Kabibi was very helpful and the whole process was very efficient. The one small reservation I had was that I was phoned up by Kabibi almost immediately having received my online quote - which wasn't enough time for me to finish reading the quotes! Fortunately she was able to assist me in a greater savings on both Gas & Electricity, and so as long as the switchover is seamless I will remain very happy with the service."This review was posted by Amanda Brown on the 21st of March 2017