Supporting local business


With its strong industrial heritage, the anchor institutions of Sandwell were naturally keen to start using more of their spending power to support the local economy – the Anchor Network gave them outlet through which to share their challenges, opportunities and suggestions.

To create a baseline, the network conducted a spend analysis for each of the anchor institutions, with varied results. The local housing association were spending over 95% in the overall Black Country and Birmingham geography, whereas the NHS Trust were spending below 20%, with less than 5% being spent in Sandwell itself.

To understand why this was, the Network therefore decided to look at “influenceable spend”. Niche medical supplies and products that are purchased through central NHS procurement frameworks, for example, could not be influenced, but the purchasing of products such as food, stationery and office furniture could be. Crucially, often these products were being procured by most of the anchors so they were able to share intelligence on local suppliers through the Network.

To test this approach the Network looked first at food procurement. Most of the large anchors in Sandwell spend on food, but the NHS were primarily spending the money outside of the West Midlands, while other anchors were using local suppliers for very similar products. By sharing the information of their local suppliers, other Sandwell anchors were able to support the NHS Trust in moving some of their food contracts over to these local suppliers, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds of public sector procurement redirected back into the local economy.

This is a simple approach that all anchor networks can take to support local business – baseline your spend, identify what you can influence, and share local supplier intelligence.