Local businesses to benefit from council procurement changes

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CONTINUING efforts are being made by Scottish Borders Council to make it easier for local firms to bid for work.

At last Thursday’s full council meeting members agreed to change the thresholds for goods and services procurement and that for works contracts.

The council believes that this will help increase the potential for contracting opportunities for local suppliers.

This in turn may also have a positive knock-on benefit to the wider local economy.

Councillor Michael Cook, executive member for human resources and corporate involvement, said: “We are trying to strengthen the hand of local businesses.”

He added that work was on-going with Borders businesses to ensure they are ‘tooled-up’ to bid for work.

Councillor Michelle Ballantyne added: “It is extremely important that we do make it simpler for small and medium sized enterprises to involve themselves in the procurement process.” The previous threshold for goods and services contracts was between £5,000 and £20,000 for invitation to quote and above £20,000 for invitation to tender.

The £20,000 figure has now been extended to £35,000.

For works contracts the upper threshold for quotes and lower point for tenders has been moved to £500,000 from £50,000.

A report will be brought back to the council in March in relation to council officers’ on-going work relating to developing a corporate community benefit policy.

The report before councillors last week stated: “The council recognises the importance of supporting local suppliers and the many advantages of purchasing works, goods and services in ways that minimise environmental impact, make best use of local produce and labour, support and maximise local employment and training initiatives and encourage economic development.”

A community benefit policy could see ‘added value social and environmental benefits’ built into public contracts in the region.