What is an SME ?

An SME is a small to medium enterprise business with no more than 500 employees.

The government has set a target of 33% of all public sector procurement to be delivered by SME’s by 2020.

Currently this is not being achieved as highlighted in this recent National Audit Office report.

There are many innovative ways we can help you increase  the use of SME suppliers as we have with other clients such as Liverpool City Council where the dedicated spot buy team dealt with contract below the £100,000 value resulting in over 50% of spend going to suppliers from within the Liverpool City Region.



Stuart Davies, Founder & Director of Sustainable Supply Chains Limited

Last year the Government increased its commitment to delivering social value by setting out a target of 33% of all public sector procurement to be delivered by SME’s by 2020, now if this is achieved and I say if, it could deliver an additional £3 billion of annual benefits to SMEs across a range of categories and service areas from construction to health and from ICT to social care.

Now according to The Federation of Small Business, there are nearly 5.4 million SME’s in the United Kingdom with an annual turnover of around £1.8 trillion. Few could argue that plays a significant role in stimulating economic growth.

Now this all sounds too good to be true, so why isn’t it happening already I hear you say, well the public sector are unfortunately held back by many conflicting government objectives which very often don’t complement one another. I remember back to the Welsh Assembly introducing the “Opening Doors Charter” aimed at driving more business to the SME market and at the same time introducing a drive for collaboration with neighbouring organisations in order to save money, this resulted in contracts becoming bigger and SMEs being mostly too small to deliver them…….mmmm you can fool some people most of the time and most people some of the time….you know the story of how that goes.

Today these conflicting initiatives remain but the introduction of the Social Value Act goes a long way to offsetting some of those problems and helping us drive more public money to the benefit of the local community and this can be in many ways from creating jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities to spending more money with local suppliers and from creating more recreational spaces for the community resulting in a reduction in crime and obesity, improved wellbeing and feel good factor.

For this to happen there needs to be a radical change in mind set within the Public Sector with a real drive to embed social value into procurement and commissioning processes. The Cabinet Office have been driving the social value agenda and recently provided funding through a competitive process for eight projects around the country to help improve the way social, economic and environmental impact are delivered and measured as part of the Social Value Act and I am proud to say Sustainable Supply Chains were one of the eight, click here.

Uptake of Social Value within procurement seems to be on the increase and it is interesting that we have been able to work with organisations from different parts of the Public Sector, such as Liverpool City Council, Aintree University Teaching Hospital and Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioners who we have helped to develop a strategic approach to embedding social value into their commissioning and procurement processes.

Embraced properly Social Value is a Win, Win, Win situation

So where do we start I hear you ask…. well it’s going to be different for everyone as you will all be at different stages of your social value journey and we are not an organisation who are going to try and sell you products and services you don’t need, so what we do is let you self-assess yourselves (in about 10 minutes) to start with by completing our Social Value Diagnostic Tool the results of which will give us a clear indication of where your organisation currently is in terms of its Social Value journey, now we can help you along that journey or you can have a go yourself it’s up to you. Working with us we will:

  • Consider the key areas to address to successfully embed Social Value including policy and strategy development, prioritisation, training of staff and supply chain, setting targets, measuring outcomes and reporting results.

  • Specific gaps and develop an action plan in order to successfully embed Social Value into existing practices

  • Specific areas where Sustainable Supply Chains may be able to support you and what you can do yourself

Check out our case studies

The end goal once you have established your own outcomes and drivers for delivering social value (which we do during the diagnostic stage) is to bring the suppliers on board in a consistent manner so multiply the social impact being delivered to the community be it social wellbeing, environmental improvements or a more thriving business community.

The Journey starts here…..