Government to help SMEs win state contracts, drive growth

LONDON Mon May 13, 2013 7:08am BST

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will make it easier for small and medium-sized firms to bid for lucrative government contracts and to obtain start-up loans as it tries to stimulate an economy showing little sign of returning to strong growth.

The new measures, outlined in a report released on Monday by Prime Minister David Cameron's enterprise adviser David Young, would apply to public sector contracts worth 230 billion pounds.

A Downing Street spokesman said the government was taking steps to put the report's recommendations into practice.

Policymakers in Britain and across Europe are searching for ways to stimulate the small- and medium-sized enterprise sector to generate growth as the global economy struggles to recover from a long-running financial crisis.

"Growing our smallest businesses would transform our economy - they are the vital 95 percent," said Young, a former government minister.

Consultations on how to standardise and simplify the requirements on bids for local government contracts will start soon and an age limit on those able to apply for start-up loans is expected to be abolished by the summer.

"(This report) highlights the steps we can take to fire up business growth, helping to boost our competitiveness and ensuring the UK can get ahead in the fierce global race we are in," Cameron said.

In April, the Bank of England rejigged its flagship Funding for Lending scheme with the aim of getting more lending into the SME sector to spur growth in an otherwise weak economy.

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