Small and medium-sized businesses will reap numerous benefits from HS2, according to a new report.
Launched at a parliamentary event that coincided with HS2 passing its final reading in the House of Commons, the report, ‘High Speed Rail – grasping the opportunity’, highlights the positive impact the rail link will have on SMEs.
The main benefits, the report said, are that it will be easier for firms to recruit workers, and it will open up procurement contracting opportunities with tier one suppliers, including members of the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) coalition.
The report followed a series of consultations with SMEs aimed at unravelling the challenges smaller firms anticipate facing as part of the project, and identifying the opportunities for engagement.
It said: “High Speed 2 is one of the biggest opportunities for Britain in decades. As well as providing the country with a new world class north-south transport link, the project provides opportunities for thousands of businesses, big and small, all over the UK.
“[We] recognise that [we] have a particular responsibility in terms of making sure SMEs benefit from the construction of HS2. Businesses recognise there is a major opportunity from HS2… [and] discussions identified areas where HSRIL members can offer support to SMEs.”
Steps needed to boost SME engagement include:
- Ensuring businesses have the right skills and the right resources
- Simplifying procurement processes
- Building relationships and confidence for the opportunities long before tendering processes commence.
The group has pledged to host a national conference later this year to bring together stakeholders to discuss the issues raised in the report, such as addressing the skills challenge.
It will also review procurement and pre-qualification processes in order to remove the barriers to small businesses getting involved, as well as holding more SME engagement events.
Read the full report here.