We are increasing opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises in a variety of ways, from transparently publishing contract pipelines to simplifying the bidding process. Those measures are working. The latest procurement figures show that £15.5 billion was paid to SMEs to help deliver public services. That is the highest since records began in 2013 and a £1.3 billion increase on the previous year.
Dudley South has many fantastic firms doing innovative work, particularly in world-class advanced engineering, but, too often, the size of Government contracts mean that only a handful of multinationals are able to compete. Will my right hon. Friend do everything that he can to ensure that public procurement contracts are advertised in the smallest chunks possible so that Government and public services can take full advantage of the talents in our SMEs?
My hon. Friend raises a very legitimate point, and, in short, yes we will. To encourage the issue he highlights, we require public buyers to divide contracts into more accessible lots, or to explain why they cannot, so that tender requirements can be matched to smaller business specialisms. I know that he is a champion for Dudley South and that is exactly the sort of measure that will help businesses in his constituency.