Cornwall Council has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting its suppliers among the Duchy’s small and medium sized business (SMEs) sector.
In view to the current economic malaise, the Council has produced an ‘Approach to Small and Local Business’ policy, which is available to view on the Council’s website.
Last year the Council spent around £187 million out of its total spend of £436 million directly with about 6,000 suppliers based in Cornwall. SMEs make up 29.5% of the Council’s top 100 suppliers, sharing £62 million of the £209 million spend which exceeds the Government’s target for local authorities.
“We know that one of the major issues facing small businesses is the length of time they have to wait to be paid”
Jim Currie, the Council’s Cabinet member for corporate support, said: “We recognise the important contribution that small and medium sized businesses make to the delivery of the services we provide to people in Cornwall and the vital role they play in the local economy.”
The new policy details the steps it is taking to maximise the opportunities for SMEs and local suppliers to bid for council contracts. It sets out how the authority is supporting the Cornish economy, the constraints it is facing on restricting purchases to local suppliers, the things it is currently doing to encourage them to compete and also highlights the range of initiatives it has planned.
Liz Calcutt, the Council’s head of procurement and commissioning said: “Some small businesses can find it difficult to win contracts with large organisations like the Council and we want to do everything we can to maximise opportunities to help them bid for Council contracts through a fair and transparent process.
“In the current economic climate, it is more vital than ever that small businesses are given the opportunity to bid for work.”
Future initiatives include the introduction of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) computer system in April which will help ensure payments are made promptly with electronic invoicing and mandated purchase orders for audit trails. Electronic tendering will also be introduced, with tenders sent and received electronically.
“We know that one of the major issues facing small businesses is the length of time they have to wait to be paid,” added Currie.
“Although we currently pay 95% of all invoices within 30 days, we recognise that this can be too long for some small businesses with cash flow problems. As a result we offer these businesses the opportunity to register for the preferential payments scheme which will enable payment to be made on the next twice weekly payment run after the invoice has been approved.”