Firebuy to be abolished

15 October 2010

15 October 2010 | Angeline Albert

National fire procurement body Firebuy is one of the 192 quangos axed yesterday by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

The Cabinet Office said the procurement function of the non-departmental public body will be “transferred to alternative suppliers”. The Departmentof Communities and Local Government is seeking expressions of interest from fire brigades and professional buying organisations to take over its 15 framework agreements.

Firebuy was established in 2006 to deliver procurement for England’s fire and rescue services at a national level. It will be abolished by March 2011 and is part of a widespread move by the government to reduce Britain’s budget deficit.

Firebuy CEO Terry Brewer said he was pleased the government would ensure the framework agreements would continue. Meanwhile, nine of the procurement staff in its 24-strong workforce may be transferred to the new organisation under The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), he said.

Brewer defended the organisation’s procurement record following the National AuditOffice’s damning report last summer which claimed the quango cost twice as much (£20 million) to run as it saved (£10 million). Brewer said: “The NAO did not accept savings identified by Firebuy although mostly these have been calculated using methodology accredited by the Office for Government Commerce.”

Earlier this year, SM reported fire minister Bob Neill telling BBC Radio 4: “Better procurement is vital and we’re currently reviewing Firebuy.”

Meanwhile, as a result of the review of quangos, the Competition Commission could merge with part of the Office of Fair Trading. The National School of Government is under review, a decision is expected by the end of November. The Sustainable Development Commission is also under consideration. There was no change announced to the status of the National Policing Improvement Agency, which is already being looked at.

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