CITY council bosses have boosted the percentage of money they spend with firms across Wearside and the North East to almost 70 per cent.
The Buy Sunderland First initiative saw the council procure goods, services and work worth more than £217million in 2012/13.
Sunderland-based firms won 36 per cent of the work based on value, and 68 per cent went to businesses in the North East.
Although the amount spent with outside suppliers was down from £244.8million in 2011/12, the actual percentage spent on Wearside rose by 2.21 per cent.
The figures are the first to be issued since the council overhauled its procurement procedure to make it easier for local firms to win contracts.
Council leader Coun Paul Watson, said: “It’s less than a year since we introduced our supplier development programme and I’m delighted that it’s already bearing fruit.
“By raising awareness of opportunities to work with the council, encouraging local firms to bid for it, and adopting a Buy Sunderland First philosophy, we’re aiming to keep as much of our spending as possible in Wearside and the North East.
“The city council awarded contracts worth £79m to 1,420 Sunderland businesses and work worth £147,115,410 to 2,916 North-East businesses (including Sunderland) in 2012/13.
“Nearly 70 per cent of our total third party spending stayed in the regional economy and we’re working hard to continue this improvement.”
More than 200 suppliers completed a questionnaire in May, asking for opinions on how the council’s procurement process was working, what they thought of the available support and the Buy Sunderland First and North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) websites, which publish details of available public sector contracts. Houghton-based Nala Engineers was awarded a place on the council’s Mechanical and Electrical Works list earlier this year.
Director Nicola Duke said: “I always thought bidding for council contracts wasn’t worth our while because we would be competing against larger companies with more experience of the procurement process.
“I was surprised to find that tendering for work wasn’t as complicated as I thought.
“The council’s efforts have made more local companies aware of the opportunities available, while the support and feedback provided has made a real difference as far as I’m concerned. I’m confident we can now continue to hold our own when bidding for future work.”
To register for council opportunities, local businesses should visit www.buysunderlandfirst.co.uk and www.nepoportal.org.
For further information on registering, contact the council’s market development team on 561 2362 or email email@example.com