Hertfordshire small businesses are calling for councils to be more transparent on awarding contracts.
The county branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says councils across the country spend £88 billion a year on procurement.
However, many councils do not know where or what size business they are trading with. The FSB argues this means local communities are losing out.
A survey revealed although over half their procurement spend went to small and medium sized businesses, more than a third do not actively record the location of their spending. Almost a half don’t know the size of business they trade with. As well as that, winning a public sector contract has been notoriously difficult for small firms due to red tape and cost barriers.
Pam Charman, who chairs the Herts FSB branch, said: “We would like to see more of an effort amongst some departments in our local councils and their central procurement teams to ensure that there is a fair process for awarding contracts to local businesses.
“Our local authorities spend council taxes on economic development and businesses support. It seems a complete waste of money if they are not recording how much of their spend is benefitting the local community and how much is disappearing outside the area.”
Dacorum Borough Council’s group manager for commissioning, procurement and compliance said the authority values local companies and “We recognise their important role in boosting the economy.” For contracts up to £10,000 the borough, where possible, asks at least one local company to quote.
On larger contracts the council will, where applicable, include local companies in the supply chain.