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Why buying local is vital to Lincolnshire's economy...

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: September 22, 2012

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With 4,500 children living in poverty in Lincoln, the city council wants to help people enjoy a better standard of living. As part of its Bee Better Off campaign, the authority is highlighting how it supports the city and county economy by buying the services of local businesses, where possible. Here, reporter Paul Whitelam looks at why shopping locally, by councils and individuals, can be good news for households...

The annual public sector buying power on contracts in Lincolnshire is a staggering £750 million.

Yet, almost half of the building and maintenance work commissioned by councils goes to firms outside the county.

The City of Lincoln Council spends £32 million annually which is deemed "influenceable", of which £13.8 million is spent locally.

Most public sector contracts are distributed through Procurement Lincolnshire, a partnership between eight local authorities.

Lincolnshire companies are now being offered training to help them try for a larger slice of the pie. But even when firms from further afield win work, they often sub-contract locally.

And terms can be written in to ensure a good deal for the local economy and the community, including jobs and training.

Heather Carmichael, client procurement officer at the city council, said that, within the rules, it would ideally like to increase what is spent locally.

"In procurement law, 'local' can be anywhere within the EU if it's a contract over £171,000," she said. "But we can factor in community benefits. For example, we would need the firm to be able to respond to an emergency in half an hour."

Ric Metcalfe, leader of the city council, said conditions like the creation of one apprenticeship per £1 million spend can make a positive difference.

"On a £60 million contract you're potentially looking for quite a lot of opportunities for people to acquire skills and longer-term higher skills opportunities," he said.

"It makes good business sense to think locally, as well as it being desirable from our point of view."

Meanwhile, people are encouraged to buy local produce through schemes like Tastes of Lincolnshire and Select Lincolnshire.

Emma Snedden, spokesman for Lincolnshire Co-operative, said buying local benefits customers, retailers and producers.

"It makes sense because our range of local products are all made by small producers and it helps to keep long established family firms and traditional skills going," she said.

"For example, we have a range of flour that's ground in the traditional way at Mount Pleasant Mill, in Kirton-in-Lindsey.

"It's also good news for customers that they get five times more dividend points by buying local products."

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  • rick29  |  September 22 2012, 8:33AM

    "In procurement law, 'local' can be anywhere within the EU if it's a contract over £171,000," she said." this is just another stupid EU law that UK enforces yet no countries in mainland europe do. i bet hardly any contracts in say germany has been awarded to UK companies even if it might be cheaper. its just another law in a long list of laws that most european countries ignore without being punihsed but when the UK ignores a EU law the EU dictators start moaning.

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