COUNCILLORS are being asked to approve plans to spend more money with their local businesses.

Durham County Council is already giving trade to companies based in the county, but the Social Value taskforce is asking the authority’s cabinet to approve more similar spending when they meet in Barnard Castle next week.

Around 54 per cent of contracts worth £286.6m were awarded by the council to County Durham based suppliers in 2012/13.

Of this, 56 per cent worth £159m was spent with small to medium enterprises (SMEs) which make up 96 per cent of all County Durham businesses.

Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The council strives to secure the best services at the best price for taxpayers but the taskforce will help us ensure that even more benefit is felt by local businesses, boosting the county’s economy as well as securing and creating local jobs.

“With 96 per cent of all County Durham businesses employing less than 50 people, it’s essential that the council does all it can to support SMEs. Nurturing the smaller businesses that our local economy is built on and helping them to grow.”

Ted Salmon, Federation of Small Businesses North East regional chairman said: “Keeping more local spend in the county is what we’re all hoping to achieve.”