engage magazine issue 007/\'08 - Page 58

58 BIRMINGHAM COUNCIL Corporate Procurement Scheme With rising fuel bills and the credit crunch hitting the bottom line of even the most long established companies, does procurement really offer micro and small BAME businesses the financial bonanza that it claims? Sonia Brown finds out how Birmingham City Council’s Corporate Procurement Scheme will help ethnic minority companies get a piece of the pie. Birmingham City Council spends approximately £800 million per annum on goods, services and construction works. Once you combine this with the budgets of other public sector services within the region, this presents major tendering and procurement opportunities for those looking for a piece of the action. ‘There is a commitment from the Council to use a diverse supply base and support effective trade between the Council, SMEs, social enterprises and third sector organisations’ explains Neil Hopkins (Head of Procurement Strategy). ‘It’s a long process from policy to changing behaviours, but the important thing is that real action is taking place.’ ‘Birmingham City Council will continue to build on its best practices and ensure that there is greater uptake from minority businesses’ continues Neil. ‘We are working with the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership, and with Advantage West Midlands to promote sustainable and responsible procurement practices. One of our key priorities is to tackle ethical issues within the supply chain to ensure best practice and relationships are fair.’ The Birmingham Sustainable Procurement Compact is a statement of intent signed by a number of organisations which includes The Fire & Police Service; University of Birmingham, the local Chamber of Commerce; Job Centre Plus; Advantage West Midlands; Birmingham City Council and the Government Office West Midlands to name a excluded which will increase their tendering opportunities with these organisations. There is a commitment to ensure that outreach and engagement strategies will keep companies abreast of legislation and policies that are needed to make them fit to supply. While buyers are encouraged to focus on social and economic inclusivity, potential suppliers must comply with equality legislations and the Common Standard for equalities in public procurement will help contractors meet their legal obligations. With the advancement of technology, the Council is investigating the use of social networking platforms to target and engage wider groups of suppliers to get information out to companies faster whilst building on their individual experiences and successes. ‘ that processes, tendering notices and the awarding of contracts are more inclusive and reflective of the local community it serves. Together, they will ensure that guidance and support will be focused on