'Torturous' procurement rules, 'choking off' savings

15 August 2012

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15 August 2012 | Adam Leach

The government needs to “take the fight to Brussels” and lobby for an increase in the procurement threshold values to enable councils to make more savings through shared services and provide stronger support for local firms.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has strongly criticised what it described as “torturous” EU procurement rules. It said the “ludicrously low” threshold of £170,000, which requires contracts to be advertised to the EU, is a costly barrier to councils that results in shared services initiatives being shelved. Further, it called for restrictions to targeting spend at local businesses to be removed in order to enable councils to provide increased support to SMEs.

Peter Fleming, chairman of the LGA Improvement Board, said: “Ridiculous EU procurement rules are making it harder for councils to save money by sharing services, and opportunities to promote local jobs and economic growth are being missed.

“We desperately need the government to take the fight to Brussels on our behalf and promote a re-write of the rules which are stifling public service innovation and limiting councils’ ability to promote growth in their area.”

Over 200 local authorities are already engaged in shared-service initiatives, however the LGA believes the figure would be significantly higher, were the EU rules to be relaxed. Similarly it believes it could increase spend with SMEs from the current figure of 49 per cent.

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