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‘Powys Pound’ takes a hit in second quarter

Created on 06/11/2019 @ 08:03
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Despite a big Powys County Council policy to ‘spend local’ there was a 2% drop last quarter in the proportion of money that the regional authority spends on using local firms.

Data has shown that the much heralded ‘Powys Pound’ initiative faltered, with just 27% of its spending on local firms, down 2% from the previous quarter and 3% from the same period of July-September last year.

But finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies defended the figures at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting by explaining the actual spend was up, but just the proportion was down. He said: “We have the target of 31% and actually achieved 27%. (But) Our actual spend with local contractors was actually greater in the quarter, it’s just the proportion.

“We have huge capital projects during the first two quarters, £5.5 million was spent on building a new school (Brecon HS) there’s also a £1.8 million spend on surface dressing on council roads, but that contractor happens to be outside of Powys.

“These sums come in lumps and can distort the figures and some of our suppliers are just across the border, for example, Paveways (Oswestry) who have a £1 million contract.”

Cllr Davies said that a review was taking place of the spend against suppliers. This is to find if there is any pattern can be identified of opportunities for where local suppliers could fit into the chain.

There would also be a review of how the data is collected to change how the KPI (key performance indicator) is calculated.

Cllr Davies also said that some suppliers can move their offices outside of Powys, but the “spend is the same”. He also explained that instead of being seen as money spent locally it could potentially be picked up as an out of Powys expenditure.

Council Leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, said that a contractor she knew from just outside of Powys did a lot of work on the county roads.

“It’s very important to say that most of his staff live within Powys,” said Cllr Harris.

Cllr Harris added: “It’s important that we do review this and the way we look at it as we happen to have 13 neighbours right around Powys.”

The Powys Pound is an initiative that has received praise from the future generations commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe.

Ms Howe described it as one of the few examples of local authorities changing their policies to try to boost the local economy. The Powys Pound is a key part of the  PCC cabinet’s Vision 2025 strategy.

Every £1 PCC spends with local companies generates additional investment and local job opportunities. In June, the cabinet revealed that they have spent £15 million in Powys since May 2017.

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