2 March 2010 | Jake Kanter
Purchasers are likely to be among staff hit by a wave of jobs cuts at UK local authorities.
Peter Howarth, chief executive of the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government (SOPO), made the comments to SM following the publication of a survey that found councils plan to lay off staff to help make savings.
“It would be foolish to say procurement officers won’t be affected,” he said.
The study, released yesterday by the BBC [Threat to '25,000 council jobs'], showed that at least 25,000 positions are under threat in the next three to five years.
The figure was based on the responses of 49 authorities, which estimated cuts of 10 per cent to their combined workforce of 256,000.
Howarth said some cutbacks were already under way. He said a number of buyers were taking early retirement and councils were appointing less experienced practitioners when vacancies arose, which he described as a “retrograde step”.
He urged authorities to stop wasting time debating the semantics of commissioning and procurement and suggested smaller councils could benefit from using shared services. He said this would enable them to cut the cost of procurement processes, build buying power and address other corporate aims such as sustainability.
A Local Government Association spokesman would not comment on specific job cuts councils might make, but said buyers would be able to influence their own fate. “Councils will look to make efficiency savings before making job cuts,” he said.