The UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority says that 13% of the £1.6 billion it spent with the supply chain in 2012/13 was with small and medium enterprises, and that it remains on track to reach a target of 20% by 2015.
NDA's spending with SMEs reached £216.5 million or 13.2% in 2012/13, up from 11% the previous year, according to figures released 13 August.
An SME is defined as an independent business employing 250 staff or fewer, with a turnover of up to EUR 50 million and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million, according to the EU's specific contractor categories.
Under a three-year action plan drawn up in 2012, NDA says that it is targeting 17% supply chain spend with SMEs in 2013/14, and 20% by 2015.
The plan requires to all site licence companies (SLCs) and subsidiaries to adopt targets to increase the proportion of public contracts awarded to SMEs, and to report on performance.
Ron Gorham, the NDA's head of supply chain optimisation and SME champion, said: "There is much work still to do, but these figures demonstrate that we are making progress. We remain confident of reaching or even exceeding the formal 20% target."
He said that the NDA is "implementing a range of measures that are intended to simplify procurement and ensure opportunities are more visible at every level."
These measures have included: forming a national SME steering group, establishing a free annual supply chain event, set-up of the NDA estate supply chain event website and simplifying/standardizing the pre-qualification process.
Sellafield, which accounted for almost 60% (£970 million) of NDA supply chain subcontracted revenues in 2012/13, spent the most with SMEs in real terms - £82.04 million. However, as a percentage this represented just 8.5% of Sellafield's overall supply chain spend, and was the lowest within the NDA estate. Dounreay spent £19 million with SMEs (17.1% of its total supply chain spend), LLWR £7.5 million (23.6%) and Magnox £52.1 (11.8%).
The NDA is responsible for the clean up of civil nuclear facilities at 19 UK sites and for implementing government policy on radioactive waste management.
Graph: Site-by-site breakdown of the £205 million spent with SMEs by site licence companies in 2012/13 (based on NDA figures)