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Growing Concerns

Growing ConcernsTendering for local authority contracts can be daunting for smaller businesses. It’s not simply a question of delivering a product or service at a competitive price. There may be hoops to jump through around health and safety, environmental policy and quality assurance, for example.

That was the problem confronting Growing Concerns when South Lakeland Council retendered the contract for its Handy Person Scheme. This helps elderly or vulnerable people carry out simple but essential work at their homes such as fitting locks, installing grab rails, and making minor repairs to fences and paths. The householder pays for the materials but the council funds the labour.

Growing Concerns, based in Barrow, has delivered the service since the scheme was established 11 years ago. The contract goes out to tender every three years but, as time has gone by, the process has become more complex and demanding.

Director Marie Shields said: “It was a lot simpler the last time we tendered three years ago. We knew we could compete on price and service, but we found all the jargon around the tender process difficult. It was South Lakeland who suggested that we contact the Growth Hub.”

Our adviser was brilliant. She explained everything clearly. Without her help we would still have tendered but I’m not certain we’d have been successful

Through the Growth Hub’s Supply Chain Gateway, Growing Concerns was allocated an adviser with environmental management and assessment expertise.

She helped to submit the tender and made sure that all the paper work met South Lakeland’s requirements. This involved reviewing and updating Growing Concerns’ health and safety policy and developing environmental and quality policies, a health and safety manual, a risk assessment template and a personal protective equipment checklist. The work paid off – Growing Concerns has retained the contract for another three years.

At their adviser’s suggestion, Growing Concerns is now looking for private sector work so that it is not entirely reliant on just one or two customers.

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