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17 October 2013 | Gurjit Degun
Northumberland County Council is looking to develop a more sustainable approach to its procurement process with aims to boost the local economy.
A new initiative, Grow Northumberland, will see the authority supporting businesses, communities and the environment when buying goods and services.
There are plans to invite local businesses to provide a “quick quote” for contracts under £50,000, and establish apprenticeships and work placement schemes with relevant suppliers.
The council has also committed to paying Northumberland-based firms immediately upon receipt of an invoice, let local businesses know of forth-coming procurement opportunities, and provide public sector procurement guidance to companies in the county.
To support the community, the authority said it will include clauses in contracts to encourage training and employment of longer term unemployed where suitable, assess the local authority’s current use of third sector companies, and train staff on sustainable procurement across the council.
The new initiative will also see the authority incorporating environmental and social considerations when choosing products and services. This includes encouraging suppliers to monitor their carbon emissions and set targets to reduce them, and to look for alternative “greener” products where possible.
The council estimated £406 million is spent annually on goods and services. Around 34 per cent of its budget is spent in the local area, and the authority wants to increase this by 10 per cent over the next two years.
The local authority noted that procurement legislation restricts it from favouring local companies, however, it explained that there are many ways to support such suppliers to increase spend in the area.
Northumberland County Council’s deputy leader, councillor Dave Ledger - who is responsible for the authority’s corporate resources portfolio - said: “The council does spend a substantial amount in the local economy but there is scope to increase this further. While we still need to ensure good value for money the council wants to use its spending powers to help support businesses within the county and assist regeneration across Northumberland.”