Council contracts to North East and Cumbria firms vary

There are big variations in the amount councils in the north-east of England and Cumbria spend with local companies, the Politics Show has found.

Using Freedom of Information requests, it asked about contracts awarded to companies over the last two years.

Hartlepool placed 62% of business with North East firms. In Newcastle and Northumberland it was 52%

But in some areas such as Carlisle and Redcar and Cleveland, there was a drop in local contracts awarded.

Carlisle City Council's figure for Cumbrian contracts fell from 46% in 2009/10 to 31% in 2010/11 while Middlesbrough's North East contracts dropped from 55% to 46%.

For Redcar and Cleveland, they fell from 66% to 49%.

In Durham, there was a rise from 52% to 57%, in Hartlepool 49% to 62%, in Newcastle 45% to 52% and Northumberland 42% to 52%.

'Value for money'

Business groups said councils should do more to support local firms.

North East Chamber of Commerce head of policy Ross Smith said: "The worst case scenario is that it puts a real lid on the growth prospects of companies in the North East.

"They might still have opportunities to act as sub-contractors to very large firms, but it will put a ceiling on how far they are able to grow and of course that will have an impact on they amount of wealth they can create and the amount of jobs they can create which at the moment is critical."

But councils said buying locally was not always possible.

Redcar and Cleveland Council leader George Dunning said that at a time when councils were facing cuts, people wanted to see them getting the best deals

He said: "I think people do expect value for money.

"But they also expect a good job as well."

See more on The Politics Show, BBC1, 13:40 BST, Sunday.

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