Buy Better Together Challenge
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Jo Swinson, Consumer Affairs Minister (left) with 1st Prize Winners, Smarterbuys – Jacqui Grimes and Louise Coulter.
The ‘Smarterbuys’ scheme, which helps provide affordable loans to disadvantaged people so that they can buy essential goods, scooped the £15,000 prize as the winner of the Buy Better Together Challenge, announced today by Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson.
Smarterbuys will use the award to develop their work further and to spread awareness of their affordable loans and products to help more consumers.
The Buy Better Together Challenge was launched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Co-operatives UK in December 2011 to encourage groups of consumers to get together and negotiate discounted rates for buying goods and services in bulk. The Challenge received 110 entries, which were whittled down by a panel of independent judges to seven finalists.
Collective purchasing schemes can benefit individuals and communities in various ways, for example, saving money for those on low incomes; increasing access to healthy or organic food, or reaching out to less mobile members of the community.
‘Fair Food Carlisle’ was awarded the runner-up prize for their scheme which uses buying groups to provide workplaces with a weekly supply of food from local businesses. ‘Fair Food Carlisle’ won £5,000 which will be invested in improving business processes and hiring staff.
Jo Swinson said:
“The Buy Better Together Challenge has highlighted hundreds of fantastic ideas and examples from local communities, who banded together to make their money work harder. Collective purchasing is of immense value to groups, not just to make cost savings, but to increase social links in the community and reach out to vulnerable consumers who may not have access to online research or internet shopping.
“The schemes we have heard about today aren’t just benefitting consumers though; businesses have seen first-hand how they can gain more customers by working with these groups and communities, often beating competitors in the process. Many congratulations are due to the organisers of ‘Smarterbuys’, which is a positive example of how collective purchasing can challenge existing markets and provide better results.
“And I also congratulate ‘Fair Food Carlisle’ in supporting local produce growers and taking an innovative approach to boosting their local food economy. These schemes are a clear example of what can be done when consumers are empowered and work together to get better deals.”
PHOTO: Michael David