‘Too many local authorities have a long way to go’ with procurement, says minister

Gurjit Degun
7 July 2014

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8 July 2014 | Gurjit Degun

Local government minister Brandon Lewis has called on councils to do more to improve their procurement.

Speaking during a debate on local government procurement in the House of Commons last week, Lewis listed examples of good practice by councils that have developed local procurement hubs, but said “too many local authorities still have a long way to go”.

“They need to go further in saving money and doing more for less through better procurement,” said Lewis. “Councils need to adopt a strategic approach to their procurement and use their collective buying power to best effect. They need to ensure that their procurement officers have the necessary skills and that they take advantage of the learning opportunities and tools that are available to them.

“They also need to find ways of sharing best practice around local government. That is a role not just for councils, working with their partners, but for the Local Government Association.”

He also announced the government is providing funds to encourage local authorities to tackle fraud, including in local government procurement.

“We are providing £16.5 million of funding over two years to change behaviour and perception in respect of tackling fraud in local authorities, including in local government procurement, regardless of how small it may be,” he said. “We should bear in mind the fact that overall fraud and error in local government costs more than £2 billion, but that does not necessarily involve procurement. However, it is still an important matter, and we need to ensure that we are on top of it. We are providing guidance on social value considerations and the pre-procurement market engagement process.”

Lewis also said that the government is offering £320 million between 2014 and 2016 to encourage and reward local authorities that are able to improve their services significantly

“That can include making improvements to and transforming how services are commissioned and procured through greater sharing and efficiency, such as integrated commissioning in shared financial planning, testing new tools and pooling budgets,” explained Lewis. “There can also be joint procurement of things such as ICT, and services can be extended to nearby local authorities.”

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