A new champion for small businesses appointed


28/02/2024

An experienced entrepreneur has taken up a key role to promote the needs of small businesses to government and ensure suppliers seize the benefits of the Procurement Act.

Shirley Cooper OBE, former chair and president of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, met Parliamentary Secretary Alex Burghart for the first time as Crown Representative for small businesses earlier this month. 

They discussed priorities for the next 12 months, with a focus on the implementation of the Procurement Act in October, which will see further benefits for start-ups and small businesses wishing to work with the government. These include simpler processes, greater transparency and access to opportunities, as well as strengthened payment terms which will maximise value for money and innovation in the government market.

Ms Cooper will lead on the overall relationship between the government and small businesses, making sure the government gets best value from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and that they in turn have the best possible opportunity to work with the government.

Shirley Cooper OBE said:

"I am delighted to take up this role and build on the work of my predecessor, Martin Traynor.

I look forward to working with colleagues across Government to make sure small businesses can seize the fantastic opportunities available to them in the public procurement process.” 

She will build on the work of Martin Traynor OBE, who is retiring after a five-year tenure in the post which culminated in the reforms of the Procurement Act 2023. 

Ms Cooper will also support the commitment to, and delivery of, increasing central government spend on SMEs. This spend has risen every year since 2016/17 and stood at a record £21.0 billion worth of work in 2021/2022. The Government spends around £300 billion every year on procurement.

She will be an advocate for small businesses, promoting their agenda both in government and externally.