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Case Study:

How to spend locally – lessons from Bradford

Learning from our in-depth pilot area work in Bradford has generated the following guide to help councils better measure and maximise their local spend.

Published: 29 June 2022
2 minute read

Learning from our in-depth pilot area work in Bradford has generated the following guide to help councils better measure and maximise their local spend.

Think of local spend in terms of concentric circles.

The first circle will be the boundaries of the local authority area. The second could be the wider county, combined authority area, or cluster of local authorities as makes the most sense. The third may be the region, and the fourth would be national. Recording spending against these geographies can help provide a more nuanced view of where council money is going. Creative judgment may need to be used for suppliers with distant head offices, depending on whether the delivery of a spend occurs through a local office.

Measure multiple relevant indicators.

This can bring further nuance and allow councils to really understand the impact of their spend and set priorities to go further. Councils may already measure local spend and spend with small and medium enterprises (SME), but it’s important to also measure both total and local VCSE spend.

Include as much third-party expenditure as possible within your local spend calculation

Apart from salary expenditure, payment for goods, works, services and grants that go through the council’s ledger should be included and measured.

Council-wide targets for local spend are important to ensure accountability.

They should be stretching but achievable and reviewed according to trends in overall council spend. Targets should be included in both council plans and procurement strategies.

Invest time in understanding the granular detail of council spend.

This will have an exponential impact on the ability to maximise local spend. Without a more qualitative understanding of changes in local spend – for example, the effect of different departmental approaches, how services are designed, and how contracts are awarded – it is difficult to understand how to move the dial on local spend in an intentional and sustainable way.

Understand what happens next.

This level of analysis will support a better understanding of the impact of local spend, and whether the money stays locally. Providing training and capacity for contract managers to develop a ‘circular economy’ approach, including understanding how services are sub-contracted, is valuable here.

Key to the success of a local spend strategy is investment in the procurement monitoring system. The more sophisticated the functionality of the system, the more accurately councils can measure and target local spend.

Tagging suppliers by geography, size, and sector, and spend by type (as in point 3, above) will greatly increase a council’s ability to for set and reach local spent targets and understand their impact.