COUNCILLORS have agreed to take action on public spending to make sure it is used for 'maximum social value' to benefit as many people as possible.

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.

He said: "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."

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.