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FSB campaigning for local SMEs to help gain more contracts

FSB are lobbying Councils to become more small business friendly in their procurement practice. Council spending amounts to millions of pounds in East Sussex alone, and if more was spent with local smaller business then this would provide a major boost to the local economy.

“It can create more jobs and support other businesses further down the supply chain,” said Martin Searle, Development Manager.

The local team includes Clive Soper, the new FSB South East Region Policy lead and Kerry Weller from Mantel Farm, who has invaluable procurement experience from her past career. The trio have met with Council Procurement Managers in East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and the East Sussex Procurement Hub – which serves the local Districts and Boroughs.

“Our focus is upon making sure local SME’s know where the tendering opportunities are advertised, on streamlining the paperwork to only what is necessary and making the selection criteria fair and open to all businesses,” added Martin.

There is a concentration upon skills too – not only tendering skills, to give small business owners a fair chance of winning, but also procurement skills, for busy managers within Councils who have to quote and select firms for smaller jobs.

With this in mind, the FSB team attended an ‘Understand the Buyer’ event recently with the East Sussex Procurement Hub. Martin Searle addressed the 100 strong business audience alongside the Council procurement professionals to say Council work is open for business and to provide ‘know-how’ tips for success.

“I have been involved in the ups and downs of tendering myself on both sides of the fence and I wanted to clearly say that SME’s can tender for a whole host of Council services; not only in construction but in, for instance, education services, social and care services and back-office support. The important thing is to be positive, resilient and learn from experience – seek feedback and come back stronger for the next tender. This way your win ratio will improve: success comes in cans.”  

Firms can register and look for local tendering opportunities: and further afield at the south east shared services portal For the construction sector go to: