Dorset Council says only just over half of the £380million it forks out in a year goes to organisations with a Dorset postcode.

It is now looking at ways it can keep more of its spending within the county.

The annual purchases range from buying social care through to IT systems; from buying vehicles through to procuring food supplies and maintaining roads.

A report says that if the council could channel more of its purchases within the county it would benefit the local economy – but Government rules prevent it from favouring local suppliers, insisting on a ‘value for money’ criteria.

“Under procurement regulations, it is not acceptable to discriminate in favour of local but within procurement exercises we can evaluate those providers who can offer economical, or social, or environmental benefits to Dorset as part of delivering social value; within the fundamental procurement principles of equal treatment, transparency and non-discrimination,” said a report to the resources scrutiny committee on November 26th.

The authority will now look at ways in which it can spend more of its money locally without breaking the rules, with a further report expected.