Cornwall Council has agreed to place a new emphasis on ensuring that it spends more money locally while also ensuring suppliers give something back to Cornwall.
The council’s Cabinet has agreed to accept a series of recommendations which were made following an inquiry into working with a developing local supply chains.
As well as ensuring that more of the council’s cash is spent with Cornish companies the changes will also ensure that those suppliers also provide social value – such as by paying their staff a decent wage, provide training and opportunities for staff and improving health.
All the recommendations were drawn up by a working group which was established after a motion was put forward to full council by Labour councillor Jayne Kirkham and seconded by Conservative councillor Philip Desmonde calling on the council to do more to use local firms and organisations to provide services.
It also aimed to help make it easier for small companies to bid for contracts with the council and to put more emphasis on contractors’ commitment to contributing to the wellbeing of residents and to tackling climate change.
Under the changes approved by the council’s Cabinet contracts valued below £25,000 the council will have to consider a Cornish supplier first.
In addition when considering awarding contracts the social value provided by suppliers will be given 15% weighting – it was previously 3%.
The report presented to Cabinet this week explained that, in 2019/20, the council spent £794 million with 5,768 suppliers.
However £441m of that expenditure – 56.2% – was with Cornish suppliers. It is hoped that the changes will help increase the percentage of Cornish firms being used.
It was highlighted at the Cabinet meeting that the council determined whether a supplier was Cornish based on the address used for invoices.
But it was mentioned that while some companies might use a Cornish address they did not actually employ anyone in Cornwall. Under the new arrangements the council will do more work to establish where a supplier is based.
The recommendations from the working group were approved unanimously by the Cabinet.
This was welcomed by Cllr Kirkham who put forward the original motion calling for change.
The Falmouth Smithick councillor said: “This is one of the things that I am most proud of in my three years at Cornwall Council.
“It wasn’t me who drafted it. It was some good council officers and a working group chaired by Cllr Eddy. But it was me who moaned on about it at every possible occasion and provided the momentum – eventually pushing it to a motion at full council last July (seconded by Cllr Desmonde).
“I went to the Inquiry sessions, invited speakers like Neil McInroy of CLES and Paul Murphy of Manchester City Council to try to show the other Cornwall councillors what Labour councils had been able to do for their areas when they used their spending power purposefully and locally.
“Now, Cornwall Council (and its group of companies) have a set of rules that mean we will spend our £680m per year in a way that benefits Cornwall and its environment more. We’ll give our contracts to organisations that pay Foundation Living wage, offer apprenticeships and training for our people in the duchy and add value to our society. We’ll shorten our supply chains and consider their environmental impact.
“Companies who do work for Cornwall Council will be judged on what they put back into Cornwall, not just on price. Money made in Cornwall should now stay in Cornwall more frequently – flowing through the local economy and being spent here.
“Big contracts will be split down into smaller ones so local businesses, co-operatives and CICs can apply and every contract under £25,000 will be offered first to a local provider, with bigger ones to follow. At least 15% of bigger contracts will be judged on what the organisation that is bidding for them has to offer Cornwall’s people and Cornwall’s economy.
“If it’s run properly by good officers, with strong political leadership from councillors who understand its importance, it could make a world of difference to Cornwall’s economy.”