Prime Minister David Cameron has urged small firms to take advantage of new rules designed to make it easier for them to win government contracts.
The Government wants a quarter of its business to go to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) but believes they are excluded because of expensive red tape.
A raft of measures have now been unveiled to help them, including efforts to eliminate the need to fill in “pre-qualification questionnaires” for contracts worth less than £100,000.
Firms will also be invited to pitch ideas at “Dragon’s Den”-style sessions led by a new Crown Commercial Representative whose job will be to give smaller suppliers a bigger voice in Whitehall.
Stephen Allott, a Cambridge-educated qualified barrister with a long history in smaller technology firms, has been appointed to the role.
Other changes include making all £10,000-plus opportunities freely available online on a “Contracts Finder” website and stopping firms having the resubmit the same data several times.
Mr Cameron said: “Today we are announcing big changes to the way government does business. It will provide billions of pounds worth of new business opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises, charities and social enterprises.
“We need to make the system more open to new providers, more competitive between suppliers and more transparent for the taxpayer. This is vital as we get to grip with our deficit – helping us tackle waste, control public spending and boost enterprise and growth.
“It will also help modernise our public services, opening them up to the forces of competition and innovation and give our great charities and social enterprises the opportunity to deliver services too.
“I call on all those who think they can provide a great service for government, to take advantage of these opportunities, to go online and start searching for contracts now.”