National consortium of SMEs could be in place by the end of the year

The National Federation of Builders has held talks on setting up a national consortium of SMEs to bid on national frameworks.

NFB delegates have sounded out firms on the proposition - which could mean up to 40 firms with a combined turnover of more than £1bn would join forces to tender for large contracts.

The proposed umbrella body would incorporate up to 15 regional consortiums that the NFB has helped set up over the past few years.

It is understood the first meeting between potential participants could take place in the next three to four months.

The proposal comes as small contractors become increasingly embittered by the public sector’s growing use of frameworks.

Senior members of the NFB met to discuss the proposed body last month.

Vasos Chrysostomou, the NFB’s procurement adviser, who attended the meeting, said he expected the consortium to be set up by the end of the year.

“I have discussed the idea with every single one of the regional consortiums. I would put money on it that we’ll have a social enterprise by the end of the year.”

Chrysostomou added that he had spoken to large suppliers to gauge their interest in partnering with SMEs on large tenders.

Chrysostomou said the aim was to create an organisation with over £1bn turnover capable of bidding for national frameworks for public or private clients, such as the banking sector, the Minstry of Defence, and the NHS’ Procure21+.

Malcolm Clarke, director of Baxall Construction, a member of the South East Construction Consortium, said: “If it’s possible to break down barriers it could be a very exciting proposition.”

A spokesperson for the NFB said: “It’s something we are looking at among other things.”