County Durham Pound project seeks to maximise local benefits from £1billion spend

Sep 7, 2022 | Local News

Twelve primarily public sector organisations in County Durham which spend nearly £1 billion between them are working together to maximise benefits to the local area from their expenditure, councillors will hear next week.

Durham County Council’s Cabinet is to receive a report setting out progress to date on the County Durham Pound project (CDP), a sector-leading initiative, and asking for approval for implementation of next steps.

The meeting will be told how the 12 organisations have identified a collective spend of almost £926m, through Social Value and Local Wealth Development in County Durham work, under the CDP banner.

Councillors will also hear that those organisations are set to sign a statement of intent, committing to continuing their social value work.

Cllr Susan McDonnell, the council’s Cabinet member for digital and customer services, said: “We are delighted to be working with partner organisations in County Durham, with the ultimate goal of ensuring our collective spend benefits our residents and local businesses as much as possible. Our work in this area is sector-leading.

“We fully recognise what a difficult time it has been with the coronavirus pandemic and the work we are doing through the County Durham Pound project is all about helping with the recovery.

“Together our organisations have significant spending power and through the County Durham Pound project we are able to identify expenditure that could be retained locally – which can only present opportunities for our residents and county businesses. This is particularly important as we collectively face the challenges posed by inflation and the squeeze on the cost of living.

“We look forward to the partners signing the statement of intent which is a clear show of their commitment to continuing this important work.”

The meeting will be reminded how, in January 2021, Cabinet approved a proposal to improve ‘social value and wealth building outcomes,’ to help with recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Social value is about considering the economic, social and environmental benefits for communities when making decisions about how contracts are awarded and budgets are invested. When employing a contractor, factors such as the businesses’ environmental policies, apprenticeship programmes and community outreach work are taken into account, alongside considerations such as quality, price and timescales for delivery.

Wealth building, meanwhile, is about working with residents, businesses and partner organisations to create and retain wealth within communities. This could be through promoting locally owned and socially minded enterprises, establishing local supply chains or managing assets to allow communities greater control of buildings and land in their area.

The aim is to maximise the value of every County Durham pound spent to ensure it benefits as many people and businesses as possible.

A report to Cabinet recalls how the proposal approved in 2021 included 10 initiatives to be delivered by the council and partners, including the creation of a County Durham Family procurement network. The network’s aim would be to improve ‘place-based’ procurement and local spending, collaborative sourcing and social value impact.

By way of a progress report, councillors will hear that 12 organisations have agreed to be part of the County Durham Family, including the local authority itself, and its Business Durham service. The remaining 10 members are: believe housing, Bernicia, Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, Durham Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office, Durham University, karbon homes, Livin, New College Durham and Northumbrian Water.

The meeting will be told that in future consideration could be given to inviting county-based businesses and the Federation of Small Businesses to become ‘Supporters’ of the County Durham Pound, building on the involvement of Northumbrian Water as one of the 12 founder organisations. Discussions have also begun with Amazon about its possible involvement in the project, and a meeting has also taken place with County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust about its participation.

Cabinet will be told that analysis has been carried out of the spend of the 12 organisations, with each providing details of expenditure on their 300 top suppliers. The meeting will hear that that the spend across the 12 amounts to £926m and that the work calculating it provides an opportunity to enhance the partners’ engagement with local and regional suppliers.

Further work is being carried out to review the spend data, Cabinet will be told, in conjunction with Business Durham.

A report to councillors also sets out that senior managers at each of the 12 partners are to sign a joint statement of intent, committing to the social value work being carried out. A recommendation to Cabinet is that the council’s chief executive sign that statement on behalf of the authority.

The meeting takes place at County Hall, Durham at 9.30am on Wednesday 14 September.