City of Cardiff Council, which had one of the lowest maverick spends, said it achieved this by implementing a category management system ©123RF
City of Cardiff Council, which had one of the lowest maverick spends, said it achieved this by implementing a category management system ©123RF

Maverick public spend as high as 63%

17 October 2016

Maverick spending can be as high as 63% in some councils across the UK, research has claimed. 

A report by e-procurement firm Applegate said uncontrolled expenditure was a major obstacle to procurement increasing its influence within an organisation.

A total of 276 councils responded to requests under Freedom of Information law for details of maverick spend during 2015-16, and Cornwall Council had the highest proportion at 63%.

Also among the highest were the Council of the Isle of Scillies (60%) and Suffolk County Council (50%).

“A CEO will not take a function seriously that only influences 60% of the activity for which it’s nominally responsible, yet that is the situation of the average procurement team,” said Stuart Brocklehurst, chief executive of Applegate.

SM has not yet received responses from requests for comment from these councils.

The report also demonstrated a large variation in the levels of uncontrolled expenditure. City of Cardiff Council and Dover District Council, the two best performing councils, both reported a maverick spend of just 1%. 

Chris McLellan, senior category manager at Cardiff Council told SM the introduction of a category management system helped the council identify and tackle their uncontrolled expenditure.

“It was no mean feat, and [was achieved] largely through collaborative and cross functional working, gaining directorate buy-in, senior level buy-in, by producing a long list of opportunities off the back of these category reports,” he said.

By using the information from category reports to target areas where supply chains were large and diverse, McLellan said the council delivered £18.5m of cashable savings over the last four years on annual purchase spend of around £350m.

“The maverick spend… was largely a net result of not having a unified approach to the way we procured goods and services,” he said.

Highest levels of maverick spend in 2015-16:

  • Cornwall Council 63%
  • Council of the Isles of Scilly 60%
  • Suffolk County Council 50%

Lowest levels of maverick spend in 2015-16:

  • City of Cardiff Council 1%
  • Dover District Council 1%
  • Corby Borough Council 2%
  • West Lothian Council 3%

A previous version of this report incorrectly stated Comhairle nan Eilean Siar had a maverick spend of 83%. Applegate have since contacted SM to say this figure was wrong in their initial report and is in fact their level of contracted spend.

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