Our message for greater SME involvement in the delivery of major programmes and projects proved a hit at the latest meeting of ACostE’s North West group.
More than 20 delegates attended the “Unlocking maximum socioeconomic value from strategic SME procurement” presentation delivered by Solomons Managing Director Dominic Doig and Claire Louise Chapman of The Shared Value Business, which took place at The Engine Rooms, Birchwood Park on Wednesday, September 13.
Dom kicked off proceedings by extolling the virtues of SMEs and their ability to make local investments that create jobs, pioneer technologies, upskill the local workforce, and deliver meaningful social impact. Sharing the day-to-day challenges many face he called for major contractors to give them a “hand up,” not a “hand out” with long term, high value and sustainable contracts that allow them to grow, invest and be more resilient.
Inspired by the proactive involvement of SMEs in the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station development in Somerset led by then EDF commercial and procurement director Ken Owen, Dom detailed the Swimming with the Big Fish concept and its introduction in Cumbria. Dom detailed the creation of the Swimming with the Big Fish SME Matchmaker Service and its work with Programme and Project Partners (PPP) at Sellafield to ensure SMEs are fully integrated in the £7bn programme of mega projects being delivered at the nuclear decommissioning and clean up site in West Cumbria over the next 18 years. And he also explained the work being done by the TeesSMEs alliance in the North East.
Dom said: “This is all about helping SMEs to grow and become more resilient. SMEs share their wealth in their local communities. The fact that they account for 99% of UK businesses and employ over 60% of the total workforce make them a real asset to the nation’s economic prosperity. We need to move away from traditional “arms length” approaches that focus on transferring risk and build models based on true collaboration that ensure SMEs can fulfil their potential.”
Claire Louise focused on the crucial role SMEs can play in delivering social value and the importance the Government places on it through the Public Services (Social Value) Act and its SME Action Plan.
She told the meeting: “Some people regard social value as ‘fluffy’, but it is anything but. It is a serious subject and of huge importance to society. It is about changing the life and career prospects of people so they can contribute to creating what is known as ‘community wealth’, which is driven by people spending the money they earn locally. Places with high levels of ‘community wealth’ are better off, have greater community connectivity, ownership, pride and equality. They are less reliant on public services, such as the benefits system, social and health care. It is why the Government places so much emphasis on social value, and also SME spend.”
You can download the presentation delivered below.
Click here to learn more about the Swimming with the Big Fish concept. And click here to discover more about Solomons’ many social impact activities.