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Delivering local support, nationally

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Act local. These two words are firmly embedded in the procurement practices of many large organisations providing services to the public sector.

Partnering with smaller, local supply chain partners can deliver many benefits. Taking a local approach to business enables continuous investment in local economies and helps the authorities to improve service delivery.

Interserve partners strategically with local authorities, helping to manage many aspects of service provision in their communities, from council offices to schools, libraries, community centres, hospitals and cemeteries.

In 2011 Interserve grew its small- to medium-sized enterprise supplier base by 7%: local businesses now represent 85% of the firm’s approved supply chain.

One of the key reasons that small- to medium-sized and third-sector enterprises are a vital part of a supply chain is because of the local knowledge they can bring.

Earlier this year, Interserve joined the Westminster Business Council as a corporate partner. This is a member organisation designed to create opportunities for local businesses to win more work and to increase their links to the local community.

This forum enables the company to provide support to small businesses to help them expand their networks -for example, running procurement workshops on how to access the supply chains of large corporate and public sector bodies.

Importantly, Interserve also gains valuable, local expertise that can be applied to many of its local authority contracts - helping to satisfy local preferences.

Another benefit of working with local enterprises comes from helping to shorten the supply chain. Delivery costs can be cut and there can be more certainty over timescales. Improved cost and operational efficiencies can be passed on to the local authority.

In an age of austerity, where costs are under scrutiny and service levels are constantly put to the test, genuine sustainable development will inevitably be economically successful - and cultivating a local supply chain can be mutually beneficial.

For the local supplier, it provides regular work opportunities and keeps the right skills and knowledge readily available. For the main contractor, such as Interserve, it enables the company to capitalise on valuable local expertise and helps to improve the breadth and quality of local services.

Most importantly, it provides economic growth and development in the very communities that councils are working to support.

Andrew Bish, director for local government, Interserve

Column Sponsored and Supplied by Interserve

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