Council commended for backing small businesses

Pictured from left are Wilfred Mitchell OBE, FSB Policy Chairman; Mayor Fraser Agnew; Sharon Logue, Newtownabbey Council's Procurement Manager and Roger Pollen, Head of External Affairs, FSB. INNT 34-509CON
Pictured from left are Wilfred Mitchell OBE, FSB Policy Chairman; Mayor Fraser Agnew; Sharon Logue, Newtownabbey Council's Procurement Manager and Roger Pollen, Head of External Affairs, FSB. INNT 34-509CON

Newtownabbey Borough Council has been commended by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) for supporting local firms through its procurement procedures.

Research carried out by the FSB shows that 58 per cent more of the money spent by local authorities with small firms is re-spent in the local economy compared to that spent with large businesses in the same area.

The research shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business (SME) 63p was re-spent in the local area compared to 40p in every £1 which was spent with a larger business.

The FSB’s report, Local Procurement, making the most of small businesses, one year on, is the second report on the power of local authorities and how they utilise local businesses in their areas for goods and services.

It shows good practice across many of the responding local authorities, including 86 per cent of them breaking contracts into smaller chunks to help SMEs win work.

Commenting on the report, FSB Northern Ireland Policy Chairman, Wilfred Mitchell said: “This report shows the ability of small firms to create jobs and growth in the local economy if they are given help to do so.

“Councils have substantial budgets to spend on goods and services so they have power to purchase locally and benefit our indigenous small businesses - the typical businesses of Northern Ireland.

“The FSB’s latest report highlights that spending locally provides jobs and growth for the area. “We want to see more of this happening across the country particularly when the all island public procurement market is currently estimated to be worth around £10billion.”

The UK-wide report holds up Newtownabbey Borough Council as a model of good practice, highlighting that 90 per cent of the council’s total procurement spend in the past year was with SMEs, which is significantly above the UK average of 47 per cent.

Underlying this commitment is the council’s programme of support and guidance for small businesses, which has helped make them better at bidding for public contracts.

Sharon Logue, procurement manager at Newtownabbey Borough Council, who also chairs the Local Government Procurement Group, said: “We are delighted that the council has been recognised in this report. We have long known that small businesses add value to the services we provide as a council, both through delivery of high quality goods and services and by supporting jobs and the local economy.”

Mr Mitchell went on to say: “Newtownabbey Borough Council is to be commended for its policy of supporting small businesses and its strategic procurement process.

“The benefits are plain to see – we just need more councils to look at them and to improve their own procurement policies.