Thursday April 20th 2017
Gordon Henderson Senior Development Manager – FSB
Typical isn’t it? You just get thinking about the next election and the local issues at play when another election gets announced! Well, first things first – the Local Government Elections take place on May 4th and there’s a wealth of issues vital to the future Midlothian economy to quiz your candidates about.
There are 2,254 businesses in Midlothian contributing £878 million to the local economy. What can the next Midlothian Council do to support them, local jobs and the local economy? Well if you look at where they spend their money, the answer is – a whole lot more!
Statistics collated by the Improvement Service – the national organisation tasked with improving local government – show that Midlothian Council spend just 14.6 per cent of their procurement budget with local small and medium sized businesses – that’s £1 in every £7! Nationally the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) are using their election manifesto (see here ) to call for the national average council spend of 19.7 per cent to be improved, so it’s fair to say that Midlothian has a lot more room than most for improvement.
Worryingly, Midlothian Council’s spending was well above national average in 2012-13 but has shown a sharp decline since meaning that the council has made a conscious decision to spend elsewhere.
I’d like to see the council make its money work harder by increasing procurement spend with local firms every year – FSB research has shown that every £1 spent with a local small business leads to an additional 63p being spent in the Midlothian economy.
Fair play to them, the council give guidance to firms looking to win contracts, and they have a clear procurement strategy discussing support of local businesses, but a 2% local spending increase per year would mean over £3 million more being spent in the local economy. If all councils did this it would generate a £600m boost to Scottish businesses by 2021.
By helping local small businesses thrive, the council can reduce inequality while driving local growth so I’ll be asking the candidates about this. Whether you want to see action on pot-holes, school buildings, trading standards or procurement – get out and press the candidates on what action they will take if elected.
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