10 May 2007 | Antony Barton
Council procurement leaders will have difficulty meeting cashable savings of 3 per cent per annum, a target expected in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) for 2007.
The concerns were raised after authorities submitted efficiency statements to the Department for Communities and Local Government in April, predicting savings for the financial year.
One council's senior procurement officer told SM
: "We, like a number of other councils, will have difficulty with those targets because we've already made some efficiency improvements and are in a number of long-term contracts."
In a submission to the CSR, the Local Government Association urged the government to recognise there was "very limited scope" for extra savings on services delivered underlong-term contracts. It also referred to the Gershon review, which claimed that, until recently, the delivery of public services would be put at risk if authorities were expected to make savings in excess of 2.5 per cent.
But Steve Holland, director of the Regional Centres of Excellence National Procurement Programme, said councils were "second guessing" the financial expectations: "There is still considerable scope to save cash by changing the way we procure in the £40 billion-plus of contracting activity local authorities engage in every year."
He added £12 billion of this sum was on basic commodity goods and services with no long-term contract.
David Pointon, chairman of the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government and procurement manager for Portsmouth City Council, said chief executives should recognise further adoption of an e-procurement infrastructure as an area that could bring savings.