6. PROCUREMENT

6. PROCUREMENT

If Cornwall were to switch to something like the Preston Model, has the county the business infrastructure to support such a move? Mention was made of the fact that many SME start-ups fail after a relatively short time, and that the Uniform Business Rate was a major cause of such failures, and should be abolished in favour of a fairer system. However, what Preston and other councils have encouraged is that where individual local suppliers are too small to cope with council-generated demand, they are encouraged to form cooperatives (in line with the ideas in Democratic Public Ownership). Other forms of mutual ownership models, such as social enterprises, and trusts (e.g. the St Ives Community Fund) were also discussed.

How local procurement and insourcing might work is illustrated by the need for a national programme of home insulation to reduce emissions from domestic heating and lift people out of fuel poverty. Nationally, new homes account for just 1% of the total UK housing stock. Most people in the UK live in homes which by modern standards are very poorly insulated. Heating of domestic and commercial buildings is also the largest source of GHG emissions in Cornwall (next to Public and Private Transport). Therefore, we need a major programme of retrofitting of the existing building stock in the county (if not nationally) promoted and funded by the community (or funded nationally but administered locally), using direct labour (i.e. not outsourced!) and local procurement of materials. (The large number of granite houses in Cornwall may require special, local measures).

One interesting fallout from such a programme is not only that materials could be procured locally, but that retrofitting is a labour-intensive process, thus creating demand for a large number of skilled and semi-skilled jobs in construction. The 2017 Labour Manifesto (p. 60) contained a pledge to insulate more homes to help people manage the cost of energy bills.