Community wealth spreads the benefit
At its meeting last week Oxford City Council unanimously supported a motion brought by Cllr Richard Howlett to explore with leading Oxford employers how to target the Council's significant procurement spend to achieve social and environmental goals.
Additionally the Council will work to ensure that public spend in Oxford achieves maximum social value, including through City Council-owned companies' activity, like that of Oxford Direct Services (ODS). While Oxford’s economy is relatively buoyant, high levels of inequality and concentrations of poverty make adding social value crucial.
Cllr Howlett was appointed Cooperatives Champion in January in a move aimed at promoting the growth of the cooperative economy.
"Around 50 per cent of the City Council's spending is with small and medium-sized enterprises and over 70 per cent is with local suppliers. We are in a position to use the Council's spending power to forge a local economy that shares wealth and power more equally and puts environmental sustainability at its heart."
Cllr Richard Howlett, Cooperatives Champion.
Community wealth building has been successful in Preston by uniting key employers and procurers to reorganise their supply chains and identify where they could buy goods and services locally.
The move is in line with the City Council's aim to use its property assets to encourage social value and to broaden economic opportunities for local people. It recently offered 12-month opportunity for organisations to open a pop-up community space, co-working centre or shop in 1-3 George Street – one of the busiest streets in Oxford city centre.
‘’ODS is about doing good in the community and delivering great services to the people and businesses of Oxford. We are committed to the Council’s values and aims in delivering a real impact in the local economy, community and environment through our business operations. Our staff are our biggest asset and as such we firmly believe in paying the Oxford Living Wage to help with the high cost of living in Oxford. We support the local economy by procuring 74 per cent of our goods from Oxfordshire with Oxford accounting for 56 per cent. This in turn supports a further 262 jobs in Oxford. We have been helping the City Council to deliver the Zero Emission Zone through infrastructure installation and we are aiming to convert 25 per cent of our fleet to electric by 2023."
Simon Howick, Managing Director of Oxford Direct Services.