Nottingham City Council has pledged to continue to support small and medium size firms locally after awarding them £48 million worth of contracts in 2016/17.
This is part of the social value commitment in Council’s draft Procurement Strategy. As well as ensuring fairness and transparency in competition for all providers, it has been important to take steps to level the playing field for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and secure social, economic and environmental benefits for Nottingham.
Using a number of smaller suppliers also reduces the risks, highlighted by the collapse of Carillion, of awarding contracts to a single large supplier.
The current Procurement Strategy saw a total of 567 contracts awarded by the Council to local firms between 2014 and 2017, resulting in a £288 million boost to the local economy.
The City Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Graham Chapman said: “At a time when the Council’s budget is under huge pressure from Government cuts, it’s vital that we have an effective strategy to get the best possible value from the contracts we award.
“We also want to ensure that, wherever possible, the Council uses its purchasing power to support the local economy and social benefits by creating more jobs and apprenticeships. In particular, we want to support small and medium size firms which are the lifeblood of the local economy.
“We have more scope to do this than councils which have been outsourcing the provision of services wholesale to a single giant supplier. As the collapse of Carillion has shown, there are huge risks to this approach.”
The new Procurement Strategy will give smaller businesses more opportunities to compete with larger enterprises by breaking down larger contracts for providing goods and services into smaller ones where possible, creating a level playing field for SMEs and a stronger, more diverse market.
Firms will also be encouraged through the strategy to help promote equality by adopting ethical employment practices and offering entry-level job opportunities targeted at disadvantaged communities.
Protecting the environment is another key theme. Where possible, the Council will seek to include appropriate environmental standards and targets in contracts to help improve air quality, mitigate climate change, reduce waste, increase recycling and support nature conservation.