4. Buy better, buy locally

Also known as ‘Progressive procurement of goods and services’

All public bodies need to keep an eye on the purse strings but whilst buying in bulk and from the biggest suppliers may look cheap, it can also have unintended consequences. Awarding a cleaning contract to a big company might reduce costs but could a smaller local company do just as good a job, and pay their staff a bit more, which could be recycled in the local economy? How can you ensure that more of the money you spend on services goes into local pockets?

Larger contracts give you the opportunity to ask for community benefits back from the contractor. Use these effectively. In the short term, for example, more tablets for your local school could be really useful, or some taster sessions for local students to encourage them to consider careers beyond what may be the norm. However you can also ask for more concrete outcomes in terms of apprenticeship diversity and training.

Community benefits can also give buyers significant influence over who and how suppliers recruit local apprentices or develop local peoples skills. It could deliver a vital piece of local infrastructure that is currently lacking – a play park or crèche facilities or inclusive play areas. You could ask them to give work experience to young people at risk of offending, or people in recovery. Sometimes interventions can feel small scale but they could be the difference between some people feeling able to access opportunities, or not.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Could this work be done by a local company if we broke the contract into smaller pieces?

  • How can I get the contractor to help local people’s employment opportunities?

Who is doing this already?

North Ayrshire Council

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