Neil Parish MP champions locally procured food

Neil Parish MP champions locally sourced food procurement for hospitals and local government during the presentation of the sixth report from the Communities and Local Government Committee on local government procurement.

Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): I thank the hon. Gentleman for his Committee’s report. Procurement is about not just getting value for money, but ensuring that small local companies can access contracts. Did the Committee consider the procurement of local food and produce, so that we have the chance to ensure that good quality, high welfare standard food is fed to our children and used in our hospitals?

Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab) (Select Committee Statement): We did not look specifically at food contracts—obviously, with £45 billion of spending, there is a wide range of contracts—but we found that local government commissions and procures about 40% of its expenditure from small businesses. That is a higher percentage than for central Government, so there are many good examples. We recommended that councils should have an annual report. That would allow them to consider how to deal with small businesses and tailor commissioning to enable them to compete for contracts; that is an important element of the recommendation. That should be embedded in council policy from the beginning. Councils should not just suddenly think, “Oh dear, that contract hasn’t really given small businesses a chance” after it is let. It should be embodied in the policy of the council from the beginning.

Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 13 March 2014, c446)