Unveiled yesterday by the communities secretary Sajid Javid, the new rules are particularly intended to prevent boycotts of goods and services from Israel, which has been subject to boycotts from some councils.
A consultation issued yesterday looks to make guidance issued last February part of a council’s Best Value duties, meaning councils would be breaking the law to go ahead with boycotts.
Among local authorities, Leicester City Council introduced a boycott of Israeli products linked to settlements on Palestinian territory in 2014, while Swansea City Council has introduced and then ended a boycott. The Scottish Government published a procurement notice to Scottish councils that “strongly discourages trade and investment from illegal settlements”.
Javid pledged to “clamp down on these inappropriate and needless boycotts once and for all”.
He stated: “We need to challenge and prevent divisive town hall boycotts which undermine good community relations.”
“No council should be boycotting any company or country unnecessarily – instead their main focus should be delivering the value for money taxpayers rightly expect.”
According to the government, council boycotts have in the past led to the removal of Kosher food from supermarkets, and calls for Jewish films to be banned.
In a statement, the government added: “These latest plans would require local authorities by law to treat suppliers fairly and in line with the British government’s policies.”
This would bring councils into line with rules set by the World Trade Organisation that require all member countries to treat suppliers “equally and without prejudice.”
The consultation closes on 27 March.