The government has urged public-sector procurement workers to work more closely with UK IT suppliers in order to give firms in the country the best possible chance of securing contracts with central and local authorities.
In a speech today, minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude revealed damning figures that underlined just how little business the government has provided to UK firms in the past 12 months due to fears of breaking European laws.
"In the same 12-month period British companies won £432m of EU contracts, French firms won £911m and German firms £3,600m. The UK awards three per cent of public procurement to foreign suppliers, compared to 1.9 per cent in Germany and 1.5 per cent in France," he said.
"It's not because France and Germany break any rules. They don't. The difference is the governments of these countries work closely with domestic firms so they are geared up to win contracts at home and abroad."
Maude said that while the German and French governments were nurturing "mutually beneficial long-term relationships" with suppliers, the UK public sector's approach was more akin to "speed dating".
"By over-interpreting European Union law and overreacting to fears of bias in favour of British suppliers we take an almost deliberately short-sighted approach to working with businesses," he explained.
Maude said it was vital those involved in tenders within the public sector were made aware that discussing contracts with potential suppliers was fully above board and could help source the best possible services.
"It makes commercial sense to nurture our relationships with suppliers and to discuss what's coming up on pipelines, investment plans, supply chains and pre-procurement issues," he said.
"It is imperative the £60bn-plus Whitehall spends and the £230bn the whole public sector spends on goods and services supports UK growth and gives taxpayers better value for money."
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