NHS SBS Framework: The easy way to engage SME’s for your public sector project

16th December 2019

Contrary to what the name might suggest, the NHS SBS Framework is actually a ‘shared business framework’ which means that it is not just open for use by NHS organisations. The framework can be accessed by any public sector organisation, large or small, that has registered for the framework, and provides quick and easy access to a raft of specialist services that might not be available ‘in-house’. This includes construction consultancy services.

Benefits of using NHS SBS Framework

Since 2005, the NHS SBS framework has delivered £350m in audited procurement savings proving that you can achieve demonstrable financial benefits by choosing to use this framework.  By accessing companies on the Construction Consultancy Services Framework, you can potentially achieve 10-15% cost savings.

Other benefits of the NHS SBS Framework include;

  • Competitive rates for services
  • Increased efficiency of procurement
  • Greater choice of supplier
  • Options for Direct Call-off or Mini-competitions
  • Flexible specialist procurement support
  • Free access to Framework agreements

Increasing SME engagement in public sector projects

Since publishing their Procurement Policy Note in 2015, the government has promoted its target to increase SME engagement in public sector projects to £1 in every £3 by 2022. Considering that SMEs account for around 98% of the UK business population, this is a very welcome initiative.

However, it is important to be mindful of how the government defines an SME. For the purposes of procurement this is as follows;

Micro <10 employees <€2m turnover
Small <50 employees <€10m turnover
Medium <250 employees <€50m turnover

This clearly demonstrates that, whilst the intention to support small & medium-sized businesses is there, in real terms, the scope of businesses meeting this definition is so vast that the playing field remains far from level.

What’s more, when I talk to public sector organisations about construction projects, I often hear that they feel forced to use “bigger” construction consultancy firms even if they’d prefer to engage with smaller or local firms that they know. Common reasons for this include the perceived ease of procurement and lower costs.

Procurement regulations can make it appear unattractive for a public sector organisation to appoint a small, or micro, local business because the process can be lengthy and expensive which conflicts with the requirement for you to be accountable for protecting the public purse and delivering value for money at all times.

That is why frameworks like the NHS SBS Framework are such an important procurement option.

Why choosing an SME is good for your project

Setting aside government targets, choosing a small or medium-sized consultancy to support your project makes great business sense. Smaller organisations are often more agile than their larger competitors who have more red-tape to navigate before getting a project up and running. This means that your project can be off the ground far more quickly – saving you time and money.

You will build direct, consistent relationships which means that the appointed consultant will get to know your project and how your organisation works. They become an extension of your in-house team rather than ‘just another consultant’. This supports a more pragmatic and adaptable approach to delivering the best possible outcomes for your project.

When you choose the right SME, you will benefit from their commitment to delivering excellence. SMEs are hugely reliant on positive feedback and repeat business for their continued success. So, if you are talking to an SME with a great reputation and strong experience in your field, you can be confident that they have worked hard to achieve that and won’t endanger it by failing to deliver!

Evolution5 and the NHS SBS Framework

Evolution5 is proud to have successfully won a position on the NHS SBS Framework. This means that the hard work has already been done for you. In addition, we have extensive experience of delivering health, education and other public sector projects with values ranging from £400,000 to £35m.

In order to appoint us to provide Cost Management, Project Management, Principal Designer or Building Surveying services you simply need to be one of the 875 public sector organisations already signed up to the framework. Alternatively, you can register here.

If you’d like to find out more about how Evolution5 and the NHS SBS Framework can combine to deliver your project email or call 023 8040 5073 for a no-obligation initial consultation.