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.
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®.