The dangers of a public sector procurement strategy that is devastating the North East's construction industry will today be aired in the House of Lords.
Last week, the region’s three largest independent contractors – Newcastle’s Surgo Construction, County Durham’s Esh Group and Gateshead’s Tolent – wrote to northern MPs and Government ministers complaining that national firms were getting preference over regional ones for public sector work, damaging the economy and giving the taxpayer a poor deal.
Now Liberal Democrat peer and former Newcastle City Council leader Lord Shipley has taken up the cause, raising it in a Lords debate on the Government’s role in generating economic prosperity and jobs.
“The Government has a very good record in creating private sector jobs, apprenticeships and investing in infrastructure,” he told The Journal.
“Initiatives like the Regional Growth Fund and the Green Investment Bank are paying dividends.
“But in bank lending and in local procurement more needs to be done to help regions grow their economies.
“This not just a matter that affects the North East. I will be asking ministers to investigate the system of national contracting and whether it can ever drive regional growth.
“There is evidence that local supply chains and sub-contractors get forgotten about with so many national contractors having their headquarters in the South.
“We need to ensure that competition is fair and that smaller companies can compete alongside the bigger ones.
“If we don’t, we will erode the skills base in the North and make it very hard for smaller firms to grow.”
We need to ensure that competition is fair and that smaller companies can compete