Pickles calls on councils to improve their buying

21 June 2010

21 June 2010 | Lindsay Clark

The UK’s minister for local government is calling on councils to boost joint buying after research discovered take-up of collaborative deals was extremely low.

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, too often councils are ripped off when buying goods and services and they must become savvier shoppers.

Eric Pickles, communities and local government secretary, was speaking ahead of a meeting he will chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) this week to address “enhancing productivity”.

He said: “A renewed and concerted focus on better procurement, greater transparency and shared services that puts the emphasis on productivity above processes will end duplication, wasteful spending and wasteful working.”

The minister’s comments follow the release of figures from the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) which revealed that only 12 per cent of councils used approved collaborative arrangements. The OGC wants that figure rise to 50 per cent to ensure better value for local government’s £42 billion annual expenditure on outside contracts, and to help curb the country’s £155 billion national debt.

Pickles will be joined by Baroness Eaton, chairman of the LGA, which represents 422 authorities. The meeting is being held to help councils improve value for money, procurement practices and collaboration in an effort to protect services.

Pickles has also written to local authorities to tell them they must do their business openly and transparently and called on them to publish details of all spending over £500 in full and online. Greater transparency would root out wild overspending, expensive mistakes and waste and could be the key to saving the public purse millions of pounds, he said.

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