CEO Comtek Network Systems and chair, DBF

More than 99.3 per cent of the UK's private sector businesses are small enterprises. This is a massive number.

Such businesses are part of the very fabric of our communities and are creating predominantly local jobs.

During the pandemic, they were hit hard. Many of the owners of small businesses lost their livelihoods.

They now have massive debts that they have to service and the recent increase in energy costs, shortage of skilled workers and rapid wage inflation are further hardships that could push some over the edge.

The UK government has made a pledge that by 2022 one third of central government spending will go to small and medium-sized firms directly or through the supply chain.

This is a small step in the right direction but not radical or ambitious enough.

The UK and Welsh governments have the power to swiftly revamp the public sector procurement rules and make it much simpler and less bureaucratic for small businesses to take part.

They must scrap the four-year Framework contracts which are in effect designed to pass all opportunities to large companies, hence shutting out the small enterprises altogether.

The Social Value Act came into force in 2013 as another scoring criterion to encourage social responsibility.

Rather than the score being simply split between price and quality, suppliers now need to be able to demonstrate how they will achieve social value through their contract delivery. Up to 20 per cent of the total score can be awarded according to social criteria.

Both Governments must pledge to increase the social value purchasing scoring points to at least 50 per cent. This increase will dramatically enhance the opportunities for mostly locally based small businesses.

The purchasing authorities should define very clearly what they mean by social values on the tender documents so that large organisations know precisely their obligations if they are successful in being awarded the contract.

The UK and the Welsh Governments must insist that all large businesses that have been awarded public sector contracts should publish their locally based small businesses percentage.

This is a fundamentally important key point, as these very large, mostly international businesses, win lucrative public sector contracts.

They must use, wherever possible, a local community-based supply chain.

Such public sector rule changes and modernisation will benefit the local economies and create much better value for the taxpayers.

Public procurement must be upgraded to reflect the economic and social changes in society.

Putting more emphasis on social value as a condition of a contract does not put any extra burden on the Governments.

It is just a purely and simply common-sense policy upgrade.