As the business world looks forward to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Sandwell Council is working hard to ensure more local businesses have the skills, knowledge and capacity to work on local contracts.
The economic, social and environmental benefits of spending locally are well known. Retaining and recycling money in Sandwell, for example, helps to boost businesses and create and sustain jobs, which is vital to the livelihoods and wellbeing of people in our borough.
It reduces travel-to-work time and material mileage, so it’s better for the environment.
And when businesses do well, they put more money back into the local economy – via business rates, for example – which can be reinvested into public services and amenities.
If you’re interested in learning more, read up on the Preston Model – an example of how Preston City Council and its partners are using their spending power to implement principles of ‘community wealth building’.
Best value and social value
Procurement is a complex topic, and local authorities including Sandwell Council are under great pressure to secure the best value for money when sourcing goods and services. But when awarding work, Sandwell Council is also committed to ensuring ‘best value’ also takes into account ‘social value’, meaning the wider benefits to people and communities. You can read more about this on our social value page.
At Think Sandwell we’ve been attending focus groups on local buying, alongside Sandwell Council officers, cabinet members and the Sandwell Business Ambassadors – for whom responsible procurement is a top priority. Together we’re looking for ways to ensure buyers are making the most of our supply chain, and that suppliers have the confidence to bid for the work and the capacity to deliver it.
There is a lot to do, but we want to share three simple steps you can take now to put your Sandwell business in a stronger position to secure contracts with Sandwell Council and other big buyers in our borough.
1. Attend this breakfast event on Tuesday 30 November. It’s the return of the Baggies Business Breakfast, organised by the Black Country Chamber at the West Bromwich Albion stadium and hosted this month by Sandwell Council. At the early morning networking event you can hear first hand from council procurement officers about what they look for in suppliers. You can ask questions, and hear about forthcoming business opportunities. If you’re quick you can even sign up for a tender-writing workshop, learning how to put forward the best possible bid for a contract.
2. Register for Intend. This is the electronic procurement portal used by Sandwell Council to advertise the products and services it needs to buy, inviting and then assessing bids from registered suppliers. You will get alerts on the contracts coming up in your sector and the documentation you need to tender for them. If you attend the Baggies Business Breakfast mentioned above, you’ll have the chance to sign up for Intend there, and ask questions from council officers at the time.
3. Tell Sandwell Council about the barriers you face. If you’ve tendered for work with the council (or a big contractor in the area) and been unsuccessful, or you found the tendering process too challenging, do feed this information back (you can use our contact page). If Sandwell Council knows about common stumbling blocks, it can seek to reduce the barriers for local businesses – for example, with training.
And tell us when you do win local work! Think Sandwell is always looking for good news stories from Sandwell businesses. By sharing your successes, you can help to inspire others to go forward and pitch for work. See our news page for the latest.