The Cabinet Office has revealed new instances of public bodies and authorities in Merseyside which businesses feel have treated them unfairly by not paying-up on time, not giving them a chance to bid for work or using unnecessary bureaucracy in the tendering process.

 The cases have been published as part of the Cabinet Office’s SME Mystery Shopper scheme, which allows the Cabinet Office to investigate public sector procurement issues on behalf of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and recommend improvements to the procurement process. The results of these investigations are then published online to promote best practice across the whole public sector.

 Examples of investigations in Merseyside are:

 Liverpool City Council

A supplier raised concerns about how the council would be assessing its financial strength to perform a contract

The Cabinet Office drew the council’s attention to its Supplier Financial Appraisal Guide, and as a result Liverpool Council agreed to review its approach to assessments to ensure that SMEs would not be disadvantaged.   Upon completion of the review, staff will be retrained in the new system.

 Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said: “SMEs are crucial to the future of this country and to building a more diverse and rigorous economy.

 “Mystery Shopper lets us find out about procurement problems and the cases published today show that our actions are having real results for businesses out there.”

 Nationally there are 67 cases published today covering a wide range of procurement issues. In total, the service has now received 238 cases, of which 193 have been closed with 81% of them resulting in a positive outcome – for example a current or planned procurement was changed, or the supplier gained a better understanding of the procurement process. The majority of cases received so far relate to wider public sector procurement.

 Mystery Shopper uses the feedback from SMEs to promote the best practice across the whole public sector. SMEs are encouraged to use the service wherever they feel that there is an issue that disadvantages smaller players or best practice is not being followed.


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