Although the Service is not allowed to positively discriminate in favour of SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises), there are a number of things we can do to increase the likelihood of SMEs winning contracts. We try to make our bidding processes as straightforward as possible, consistent with making sure that we spend our funding wisely. We also consider how contracts are structured and look at regional options where appropriate. Our spend with SMEs in 2014/15 was £30.6m, which is up by 70% in the last four years. This represents nearly 60% of our trade spend.

The new sustainable procurement duty from the EU requires us to facilitate the involvement of SMEs, and we will continue to look for ways to do this.