Bid for council work to be carried out by Calderdale businesses to boost economy

Employing more local businesses to do council work can bring other benefits to Calderdale’s communities and economy – giving it more bang for its buck.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 6:45 am

Calderdale Council adopted social value goals soon after Government legislation passed nine years ago, aiming to ensure more community benefits were delivered through public spending.

The council had supported the Keep It Local campaign and was committed to supporting local suppliers into the supply chain, said council’s corporate procurement officer, Debbie Gaunt.

Practical proposals are to come before Cabinet early in the summer.

Councillors have said Calderdale firms should carry out council work
Councillors have said Calderdale firms should carry out council work

Members of Calderdale Council’s Strategy and Performance Scrutiny Board heard, social value means that every pound the council spends needs to do more than just buy high quality, value for money, supplies services or works.

For example, Jackson Civil Engineering, offered apprenticeships, higher education visits, workshops and work experience when the Chesterfield firm was undertaking work on phase one of the ongoing Calderdale A629 road improvement scheme.

Local companies can be in a good position to bring such benefits, the council believes.

Five years ago, in 2016-17, when the council’s annual budget for that year was 241 million, almost 40 per cent was spent in the Calderdale economy, with further spend with West Yorkshire suppliers bringing the total spent by the council within the county to 86.8 per cent, comparing well to other councils and a strong base to work from.

Ms Gaunt said social value had to be embedded across the council, and work was being done to remedy a key element which had been missing, a framework by which this added value could be measured.

“By applying this any of our contractors understand much more about the contribution we are getting back,” she said, with contracts needing to meet the council’s aims and priorities.

Coun Regan Dickenson (Con, Rastrick) wanted assurances processes were in place to ensure it was not “a bit of a gravy train” for companies doing work over a long period.

Ms Gaunt said the council was working with smaller suppliers to help them become more “bid ready” and working at removing barriers to them being able to apply for work.

Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) wanted to issues like whether contractors’ employees offered the living wage, some weighting towards council wards which needed most economic help, and environmental benefits factored in, and Councillors Victoria Porritt (Lab, Elland) and Mike Barnes (Lab, Skircoat) wanted more detailed timescales to speed up improvements.

The board agreed to recommend to the council’s Cabinet that it should consider proposals at its June meeting, its first of the new council year following May’s elections.

“This really needs to be brought up the agenda,” said Coun Barnes.