Getting small local firms online and trading with councils was one of the key messages of the 2005 annual conference of the National e-Procurement Project (NEPP) in central London. In her sponsor’s address to the packed hall of local authority representatives, Lyn Duncan, Managing Director of @UK PLC emphasised that it was through the @UK approach that SME’s (Small to Medium Enterprises) can trade straightway with the public sector, other businesses and even consumers. This approach has significant Local Economic Development benefits at a time when local authorities are extremely concerned their local firms are not brushed aside by big national traders, especially as the authorities themselves are required to buy everything online in future.
The theme of supporting local companies was picked up in several ways. Martin Scarfe, an NePP Board member, ran two tutorial sessions for delegates on the importance of developing local suppliers. “Newham have worked closely with @UK to ensure a level playing field for all our suppliers”, Scarfe said.
Sarah Cotgrave of the Office of Government Commerce - Buying Solutions explained that around 50% of all OGCbs contracts were with SME’s and that authorities should look closely at the local option, even through such a national organisation as OGC BS.
@UK has produced a free booklet for local authorities - to hand out to all their local firms - explaining 20 ways suppliers can save money and/or sell more by going online. Dudley George, Marketing Director of @UK is pictured handing the booklet to a delegate at the conference. This proved a big hit at the conference with most delegates. The offer of a free member of @UK staff to work alongside authorities recruiting local suppliers to the initiative was also judged by delegates to be a significant benefit that many were interested in taking further.
See www.nepp.org.uk for further information on the National e-Procurement Project.