A couple of years ago, Northumberland County Council carried out some groundbreaking work on local procurement with the New Economics Foundation.
This “LM3” study showed that money spent on procurement with local businesses benefited the local economy by three times as much as money spent with businesses outside the area.
And yet, proposals for the new unitary authority suggest outsourcing service delivery to a joint company shared with Cambridgeshire and Hampshire, likely to be based in Hampshire.
Outsourcing may possibly save money for the council but if it exports jobs and drains money from the county then its going to cost the local economy far more than is saved.
In fact, I’m surprised that the NE Chamber of Commerce is supporting proposals which could do so much damage to the local economy quite so strongly.
The County Council have a good reputation for local procurement and supporting social enterprise. The District Councils have some very good teams in place delivering high quality services, which are likely to be broken up in the restructure.
If we’re going ahead with the restructure, and if outsourcing is a must – then surely it should be possible to create local businesses to deliver services saving jobs and supporting the local economy in the process rather exporting jobs to the south.