Durham County Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve plans by the Social Value Taskforce to further increase spending with local firms.
The taskforce, the first of its kind in the North-East when it was created, was set up by the council and the Federation of Small Businesses in response to the Social Value Act.
The taskforce’s aim is to consider the ‘social value’ of contracts, ensuring County Durham businesses and the local economy benefit even more from council spending.
Cabinet will be asked to approve the group’s initial report and action plan to further boost local business when it meets on Wednesday (11th June) at The Witham, Barnard Castle.
The council already champions local spending with 54.4 per cent of contracts (worth £286.6m) awarded to County Durham based suppliers in 2012/13. Of this, 55.6 per cent (worth £159m) was spent with small to medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs make up 96 per cent of all County Durham businesses.
This excellent performance has been achieved by the council going further than the requirements set out in the act for local authorities; ensuring local firms can tender for the supply of goods and to carry out works in addition to the service contracts covered by the act. Contracts of a much lower value than the law dictates are also made available to businesses in the area, meaning more money stays in the county, creating local jobs and improving prospects for local residents.
As part of their first report, Cabinet will hear how the taskforce plans to encourage even more local spending using best practice gathered from organisations around the country. As well as encouraging more organisations to follow its lead, the taskforce, in partnership with Sunderland City Council and the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO), will hold an event to launch the report. This free session, on the morning of 10 July, will aim to spread awareness with even more local companies and show how they can bid for council contracts.
Cllr Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The council strives to secure the best services at the best price for taxpayers but the taskforce will help us ensure that even more benefit is felt by local businesses, boosting the county’s economy as well as securing and creating local jobs.
“With 96 per cent of all County Durham businesses employing less than 50 people, it’s essential that the council does all it can to support SMEs. Nurturing the smaller businesses that our local economy is built on and helping them to grow.”
Ted Salmon, Federation of Small Businesses North East regional chairman said: “Establishing a taskforce approach has enabled us to bring together small businesses, social enterprises, the biggest council and the largest representative of small businesses in the North-East to work on growing the local economy. Keeping more local spend in the county is what we’re all hoping to achieve.”
“The taskforce report contains clear recommendations for the county council and partner organisations, which we hope to see implemented, not just across County Durham but within the wider North-East region.”