A new website has been launched to assist companies to tender for government contracts with £70bn worth of business opportunities already listed on the site.
Announced by Cabinet Secretary Francis Maude and Business Secretary Vince Cable, data has been published on £70bn of potential contracts over the next five years, across 13 different sectors including construction, vehicle equipment for civil and defence operations, medical and police equipment.
The news follows heavy criticism of government procurement after Bombardier, the only firm with a manufacturing facility for making rolling train stock in the UK, lost out on a highly lucrative contract to Siemens.
MPs are still fighting for the government to reveal its reasons for choosing Siemens as the builder of the £1.4m Thameslink fleet over Bombardier, which had to cut 1,400 jobs at its plant in Derby following the announcement.
With skills gaps across industry being a primary concern for many manufacturers, publishing data on future contract needs allows government and industry to work together to spot any skills and investment gaps so that UK firms have the capability and skills in place to challenge for the contract.
Vince Cable admitted to The Manufacturer in February that the government had made mistakes with how it awards contracts in the past. “We’ve been too short-term in how we’ve done procurement in the past,” he said today. “Our key competitors in Europe already see procurement as an integral part of a proper industrial strategy and it’s time we did the same.”
“By publishing details of our expected future requirements ahead of time and adopting a strategic approach, we can help give UK suppliers the confidence to invest in people, plants and technologies here at home so they can compete for and win these government contracts,” added Cable.
It is hoped that today’s measures will help to combat the “famine and feast” nature of the jobs market where a lack of central data on projects across the country can lead to avoidable gaps between projects.
Data on contracts can be found here.