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Dudley Council the historic capital of the Black Country
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Trading with small and medium sized enterprises (SME's)

Assisting local businesses is one of our important objectives, therefore we are keen to work with small and medium-size enterprises (SME’s). With guidance from the European Commission, we are working to ensure that SME’s are kept involved in our tenders and contracts, and recognise that SME’s can provide good value for money and seek to remove any barriers that may halt them from participating.

We have a large number of contracts across many different goods and services. These are all varying in size and value which attract interest from SME’s. We also recognise that it can be advantageous to both the Council and businesses for larger contracts to be split across to more than one contractor.

However there are some challenges that SME’s may come across which the we aim to help overcome:

Opportunities to Win Business

We advertise tender opportunities in the local press (Express & Star newspaper), appropriate trade journals, web portals designed to benefit SME’s such as the Contracts Finder, and in the Official Journal of the European Union when applicable.

We also strongly encourage businesses to visit the following Dudley Council website pages for information on:

Our website also allows businesses to express an interest in these tenders and contracts online and to request or forward further information.

General Processes and Procedures

We have adopted an electronic tendering system that is easy to use, and securely send and receive tender documentation securely. The use of this system is to help assist efficiency and also save cost for all parties involved.

We aim to make Tender documents easy to understand, make requirements clear, and avoid any confusing jargon. Instructions include what the supplier has to do to respond to the requirements, such as the information required, format of response, and the deadline. These are clearly started as well as the criteria that the suppliers will be compared against.

All payments made to successful contractors are made through the secure ‘BACS’ system, rather than through cheque, as this can be costly. Purchase Cards are also available and are widely used across the Council. This payment method allows Councils staff flexibility in placing orders, such as by telephone or via our supplier website. This ensures that suppliers are paid within 2-4 days of receipt of goods or services.

Any suppliers that do not currently accept payment by VISA are encouraged to implement the Purchase Card facility.

Treating SME's Fairly

Businesses of all kinds and sizes should be treated equally and The Small Business (SME) Friendly Concordat is a voluntary, non-statutory code of practice for local government bodies, such as the Dudley Council. We have signed up to further demonstrate our commitment to helping SME’s. The Concordat sets out what small firms and others supplying Local Governments can expect when tendering for Local Authority contracts. It also sets out the standards that public sector buyers should expect from their suppliers.

Briefly, the concordat gives guidance on:

  • Ensuring SME’s have access to contract opportunities and the Council website informs suppliers of tender and contract opportunities. It also gives guidance on how to trade with the Council.
  • Giving potential suppliers the opportunity to discuss the procurement process in order to understand the Council’s requirements and assess their own suitability.
  • How to ensure a fair tender process, for example, the use of standard documents, keeping processes simple and minimising costs, publication of evaluation criteria, applying rules and policies fairly.
  • Feedback and complaint procedures.
  • Contract management, for example, treating suppliers openly and fairly, paying suppliers on time, giving honest and constructive feedback on supplier performance, giving notice of performance problems and the opportunity to put matters right if appropriate.

Summary

We are keen to keep in touch with suppliers and regularly participate in events such as our ‘Meet the Buyer’. This is a meet and greet where businesses of all kinds can introduce themselves to purchasing staff from several local authorities to promote their goods and services, and discuss any concerns or queries they may have in competing in the public sector.

Communication is key and the Council does inform local businesses on important issues they need to be aware of. For example, we believe that it is important for businesses to have a Business Continuity Plan in place to cover any disruptions that may be caused by major incidents.

We are able to keep in touch with local business issues and consider best practice through participation and communication with regional groups such as:

Further information is also available via:-