SSDC lets down small businesses

Today is Small Business Saturday. Small business matters to Somerset. Over 90% of all of our businesses employ less than 10 people.

Central government announced today an ambition to give smaller businesses access to £50bn of public contracts. That could be anything from supplying hospital equipment to providing public sector pensions. These contracts are usually tendered annually.

Government has provided a guide giving advice on how business owners can access these contract opportunities. It also includes tips on how SMEs can make sure they are showcasing their strengths during the bidding process. This will be backed up by online webinar sessions for small businesses.

SSDC commitment

But in some ways we should be ahead of the game in Somerset. The commitment that South Somerset District Council made to small business in their area should matter. SSDC said was that they would spend 10% % of total spend with local Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). That makes sense. Most local businesses are, as we note above, SMEs. Keeping spend local grows the local economy, which is good for SSDC, good for residents and good for business.

Unfortunately SSDC are miles off their target. In the last 2 quarters they have spent less than 5% each quarter with SMEs. That’s less than half their target. These figures were reported to the November District Executive. The report did not identify reasons for why the performance was so poor. Instead they waxed lyrical about how their definition of local was tighter than other authorities. And then why they had done such a good job during the Chard regeneration. Neither point explains why they have performed so woefully against a modest target.

Example close to home

As an example of how the council operate, the council refuse to advertise with The Leveller®. We are a small business located in Langport with less than 10 employees. (We should add there are several other good local newspapers and magazines that are SMEs.) SSDC will not advertise with us because we do our job. Which is to write articles which hold them to account. Instead they spend most of their advertising budget on the Western Gazette.

Is this good business? You decide….

  • The Western Gazette has closed its Yeovil offices.
  • It was the lead tenant in the SSDC owned Yeovil Innovation Centre.
  • The Gazette is owned by a London-based multinational plc.
  • It has a circulation less than half that of The Leveller®.


  • SSDC has been unfit for purposes for so long it’s beyond a joke now, can only hope with the up coming unity system that we will get a better service.

    • They don’t like ‘The Leveller’ because the editor tells it as it is and prints letters and articles critical of SSDC. It seems to me that the Council does not advertise in this paper out of sheer spite. I wonder what the differential is in advertising rates?

      I look forward to the expose of what has been going on behind the scenes over Clare Pestell’s departure.

  • Since Reach plc closed the Midsomerset Series of Newspapers in Wells
    There has be a decline of local news.
    It is good The Leveller works with the Community Radio Station
    To balance the use of print and digital media

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