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New initiative to boost local procurement for Gloucestershire SMEs

A new county-wide initiative to try and help Gloucestershire’s small businesses win more contracts to supply goods and services to the public and private sector is gathering momentum. The Together Gloucestershire campaign brings together local business groups, small and large county businesses and some of the area’s major public sector organisations with a unified aim to keep more business within the local economy.

The Together Gloucestershire campaign

The partnership – thought to be one of the first of its kind in the country – will try to create an online platform to make it easier for local businesses, councils and other public sector bodies to connect with and work together to help support local companies and ensure as much procurement as possible stays within county borders.

The Chambers of Commerce for both Cheltenham and Cirencester along with Gloucestershire’s FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) are the driving forces on behalf of the SME community and the group also includes major companies in the county such as Renishaw, Spirax Sarco, St. James’s Place and Hazlewoods along with councils including Cotswold District Council and Cheltenham Borough Council.

Together Gloucestershire also has the full support of public sector bodies including Gloucestershire Police and GFirst LEP with MPs Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) and Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown (Cotswolds) also involved in early discussions.

The overall aim is to create a local pledge from all parties to improve the amount of procurement that goes to SMEs within the county and for SMEs themselves to adopt an ethical and environmentally friendly approach to ensure those in the private/public sector are confident in the values of those in their supply chains.

New initiative to boost local procurement for Gloucestershire SMEs

The benefits of local procurement

Local procurement is the process of buying goods and services from suppliers within a specific geographic area. This can have various benefits for both buyers and suppliers, such as:

  • Reducing environmental impact: Buying locally can reduce carbon emissions from transportation, packaging and storage. It can also support local initiatives for sustainability and circular economy.
  • Strengthening local economy: Buying locally can create more jobs, income and tax revenue for the local area. It can also foster innovation, collaboration and resilience among local businesses.
  • Improving social value: Buying locally can enhance social cohesion, trust and diversity within the community. It can also support local causes, charities and social enterprises that contribute to social welfare.

According to a report by Centre for Local Economic Strategies, every £1 spent with a local supplier is worth £1.76 to the local economy, compared to only 36p when spent with a non-local supplier.

The challenges of local procurement

Despite the potential benefits, local procurement can also face some challenges, such as:

  • Lack of awareness: Buyers may not be aware of the availability, quality and value of local suppliers. Suppliers may not be aware of the opportunities, requirements and processes of local buyers.
  • Lack of access: Buyers may not have easy access to information, platforms or networks that can help them find and connect with local suppliers. Suppliers may not have easy access to resources, training or support that can help them bid for and win local contracts.
  • Lack of capacity: Buyers may not have enough time, staff or budget to manage local procurement effectively. Suppliers may not have enough skills, experience or capacity to meet the standards and expectations of local buyers.

These challenges can create barriers for both buyers and suppliers to engage in local procurement, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that may have limited resources and capabilities.

The solutions of Together Gloucestershire

To overcome these challenges, Together Gloucestershire aims to provide various solutions, such as:

  • Creating an online platform: The campaign plans to develop a user-friendly website that can act as a one-stop shop for local procurement. The website will feature a directory of local suppliers, a portal for tender opportunities, a forum for networking and feedback, and a resource hub for guidance and best practices.
  • Raising awareness and engagement: The campaign plans to promote the benefits and opportunities of local procurement through various channels, such as social media, newsletters, events and webinars. The campaign will also encourage buyers and suppliers to sign up for the online platform and join the Together Gloucestershire network.
  • Providing support and training: The campaign plans to offer various forms of support and training for both buyers and suppliers, such as workshops, mentoring, coaching and consultancy. The campaign will also facilitate peer-to-peer learning and collaboration among members of the network.

Speaking following a recent meeting at Spirax Sarco where Sam Holliday, the FSB’s Gloucestershire Development Manager, outlined his organisations frustrations at the Government missing its own targets for giving contracts to SMEs, Adam Vines of the Cirencester Chamber of Commerce spoke said how pleased he was that the ‘Together Gloucestershire’ campaign was now making real progress to take county procurement forward.

He said: “Through this project, we aspire to help hundreds of millions of pounds of business be spent with our region’s exceptional small businesses. The unwavering support and active involvement of our region’s leading employers, local authorities, and the public sector have propelled this initiative, highlighting the undeniable necessity for this solution.

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