In my opinion local government should be forced to buy local

Catchy web design

I came across this article recently in the Guardian, reporting 'More than £10bn of taxpayers' money a year is being paid to just 20 private companies, according to figures from the Institute for Government think-tank and the data analysts Spend Network.

Made me think back my own experience of dealing with local government and how that has changed in the last 10 years, so much so that we practically don't do any work for any government department today. Having said that we have moved away from design & print into websites & social media, which was the type of work we did for local councils and nhs departments printing booklets/election packs etc. We developed a great reputation for delivering quality, going the extra mile (including working weekends), excellent pricing and customer service.

Unfortunately that did not seem to be enough, even after helping some customers out of dire circumstances and resulting in endless thanks, as soon as the next financial year arrived and the quotation/tender process began all was forgotten. One year our quotation was rejected on the basis that the procurement team decided on points that we would not be able to complete the project, but only 6 months earlier we helped their department achieve near enough the impossible on a shortened deadline and without extra cost.

It, like so much other local work is offered up to big business, because they have teams of people working on various accreditations/health & safety policies/tender packs and small local business just cannot compete with that. We made a conscious decision then to forget about government work, it is too expensive to compete for that market and obviously no loyalty even for exceptional service delivery. I suspect we are not the only local business that has made that decision and you have to wonder how that affects the value offered to government and especially the pricing.

It was very frustrating for me, because we spent years improving our skills in these areas and working hard at keeping ahead and delivering the best quality/value possible; only to for forced out the market by essentially servants to the tax payer. Ultimately we have retooled and our business is in a better place with greater prospects for the future, so for me it has been a positive move, BUT what about the other local businesses that have been affected by the buying policies of government? I worry that we are losing local talent and to some degree a glass ceiling is being placed on the development of local businesses.

My solution, local government should be encouraged/forced to source local suppliers as a priority over the multi nationals, not only will that help the local communities they are serving by keeping the financial cycle local, but it will in my opinion help close the North/South divide.There be a financial benefit for local business, but the positive social impact on the local communities will be the real reward.

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