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Luton puts local growth at the heart of new strategy

Luton Council has adopted a new strategy which will see the local authority almost triple the amount it spends with local businesses within the next five years.

The council’s executive voted recently to adopt a new procurement strategy, which will see expenditure with local business rise from 25% in 2017/18, to 70% by 2023/24.

According to the council report, the new strategy marks a ‘different approach’ to how it can use its procurement as a ‘key component of local wealth building’.

The report also commits the council to develop a social value framework within the next two months to underpin the values and aims of this strategy and provide a comprehensive local authority-wide framework for securing social value.

It also raises the lower threshold for expenditure from £1,000 to £5,000, so council services can procure required goods and services without reference to the corporate procurement team.

According to the report, this will provide greater freedom for council services to act in a more ‘agile way’ whilst enabling the corporate procurement team to focus on higher risk, strategically important procurement activity

‘Luton faces significant challenges around poverty and social mobility,’ said the council’s corporate director for place and infrastructure, Laura Church.

‘In 2015 the town was ranked as the 59th most deprived local authority area in the country. With our current procurement strategy scheduled for renewal this year we have found ways to use a new strategy to help address this by using revised supply chains, with goods and services being sourced as locally as possible.’

The chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), Neil McInroy told New Start that Luton Council’s ambition was ‘laudable’.

‘The work they propose represents a progressive procurement and social value process, alongside enterprise development, which will advance the opportunity for local business and other enterprises to enter, compete for and potentially win contracts in the market,’ he said.

‘The procurement aspect of the community wealth building movement represents an intentional desire to counteract wealth extraction and create a better economy – where competition is increased, shorter supply chains see a reduction in the carbon footprint and local business growth and jobs are ensured,’ added Mr McInroy.

‘If successful, this will create a social, economic and environmentally virtuous ripple effect through the local economy.’

Photo Credit – Nattanan23 (Pixabay)

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