Thursday, 1 August 2013


When it comes to spending public money it makes perfect sense to work it extra hard, to extract as much value for money from it as possible. One way we can (at all levels) work public money extra hard is by raising the levels of local public procurement, to give Welsh companies and Welsh workers more opportunities to benefit from public spending so that and their wages can circulate in the local economy.

Back in 2012 statistics showed that only 52% of Welsh public spending goes to companies based in Wales. Value Wales calculated that every additional 1% increase means 2000 more jobs in Wales. Improving Welsh public sector procurement to reach 75% would mean an increase of 46,000 jobs in Wales. Plaid has rightly called for legislation in procurement best practice to help create almost 50,000 jobs in Wales.

For once Wales has been ahead of the curve (even if the current Labour in Wales government (in Cardiff) has been dragging their collective feet), this is something that was recommended to the Welsh Government in the summer of 2012 by the  McClelland Report for the Welsh Government. It is reasonable for the Welsh Government to take action to ensure that a greater percentage of that money can be spent locally in Wales.

Our local authorities spend around £4 billion pounds (April 2012) worth of our money buying goods and services. A target of 75% of the public sector spend, being spent here in Wales, is an excellent idea, as it means that  around £3 billion pounds of tax-payers money staying in Wales.

A survey commissioned by the Welsh Government (back in July 2010) reported that almost half of all food and drink bought by schools, hospitals and local authorities in Wales was of Welsh origin. The 2010 Welsh Public Sector Food Purchasing survey revealed that Local authorities had increased their purchases of local food by 90.5% in the previous six years.

Key categories included bread, milk, fruit and vegetables, ready meals, soft drinks, dairy products and water. The NHS (in Wales)  purchased 69% of the food and drink products in Wales, when it comes to milk on average, 50.9% of all the milk purchased by Welsh local authorities for schools was locally-produced.

Welsh higher education purchases accounted for 41.3% in 2009, this compared with 28.7% in 2003, in the field of further education some, 39.6% of purchases were of Welsh origin, up from a previous figure of 16.8%. The survey noted that only organisations the MoD and our Police Forces purchased less food sourced from Wales with a 0.4% decrease.

The procurement process should build upon Local Sourcing Action Plan’s and should lead to real social, economic and environmental benefits for all our communities by retaining the money spent in the local economy. This is sustainable development as local investment can provide a range of benefits across the whole of Wales benefiting local farmers, local suppliers and producers and local people.

One side effect of this should be a reduction in food miles, reduced carbon emissions which to help fight climate change and reduced transport costs. If this is done right then we can ensure that more of that money remains in local economies longer and benefits local firms and food suppliers, to use a footballing metaphor prior to the start of the season, there is no reason why this should not be a real home win for Wales.

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