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Agenda item

Councillor Bennett - Community Wealth Building and Procurement


The purpose of this motion is to:

·      Encourage smaller businesses, community organisations and local businesses and organisations to consider becoming council suppliers

·      Identify and remove invisible barriers to participation while.

·      continuing to comply with the strict statutory rules and best practice guidelines for public sector procurement.


1.    This council proposes to encourage more small and local suppliers by showing that other such suppliers already do so. It will do this by publishing its participation statistics as prominently as possible.

2.    This council recognises that invisible barriers for smaller organisations do exist. Sole traders may struggle to find time to access training at conventional times. For this reason, council officers will explore options on all Council media channels available for the most suitable way in which to engage with novice suppliers

3.    The Council shall draw these steps to the attention of “multipliers” and ask them to share this with their networks. Multipliers are professional organisations and industry bodies that deal with a large number of potential suppliers.

Background Notes (not part of active motion):

1              By law, public procurement must be a level playing field open to all potential suppliers. Councils cannot for example offer preferential treatment to local or smaller businesses or community organisations.

2              However, nothing prevents councils from working to eliminate invisible barriers to participation.

3              In particular, smaller organisations are time poor and may struggle to research opportunities or access training.

4              Cambridge City Council current available figures (2021) shows we achieved the following participation rates

a.    Spent £48,344,507 with SMEs. This is 51% of Cambridge City Council's total procurement spend.

b.    Spent £2,773,347 with VCSEs This is 3% of Cambridge City Council's total procurement spend.

c.    Spent £68,062,517 with locally based suppliers This is 72% of Cambridge City Council's total procurement spend.

5              Out of 259 authorities, Cambridge City Council achieved:

a.    44th place for its SME spending (51%)

b.    195th place for its VCSE spending (3%)

c.    4th place for its locally based supplier spending (72%)

6              Overall, this puts Cambridge City Council in the top quartile.

a.    Rankings may be affected by differences between the functions of the councils.

b.    Locally placed suppliers may include local branches of national and international businesses.

c.    There are no figures for smaller SMEs such as micro businesses

NB – figures for 2022 are due to be published later this month

7              Abbreviations:

a.    SME means small and medium enterprises. The UK definition of SME is now a small or medium-sized enterprise with fewer than 500 (was 250) employees. and a turnover of less than €50 million, or a balance sheet total of less than €43 million

b.    VCSE means an incorporated voluntary, community or social enterprise which serves communities solely within England.

c.    Community wealth building is usually defined as creating a resilient and inclusive economy for the benefit of the local area.

d.    And is one of the key principles of “doughnut economics” a term coined by Kate Raworth.    

e.    Cllrs Bennett and Tong wish to thank officers and councillors from Bristol, Preston, Stroud and Cambridge for their help in putting this motion together. Any errors or omissions are of course our own.


Councillor Bennett will withdraw the Motion under Council Procedure Rule 13.3.