Council seeks 'greatest impact possible' in new procurement policy

Westminister City Council (WCC) has launched a new responsible procurement policy (RPC) to help achieve ESG goals.

The local authority – which spends more than £500m annually on goods, works and services – said the policy would promote themes of environmental sustainability, community and business partnerships, building back better, and inclusive work.

WCC said weighting for ESG issues in tender evaluation processes would increase from 5% to 10-20%, while quantified targets would be set – in areas including carbon reduction and spend with diverse suppliers – once sufficient baseline performance data had been collected.

“This strategy aims to integrate RPC principles at each stage of the procurement cycle,” said a report. “The level of impact made and how seriously contractors take our ambitions will also depend on the weighting attributed as part of supplier evaluation in tenders. As such, the council will increase its current 5% weighting to between 10-20% depending on the nature of the contract.”

The RPC includes ambitions to reduce the quantity, volume and range of goods purchased, increase contractor and industry collaboration, and raise spend with diverse, local enterprises.

The report said among the first areas of focus would be identifying contracts posing the highest risk or best opportunities to make change.

For complex and emerging issues, procurement teams will support suppliers with “continuous improvement targets rather than pass/fail criteria”.

Procurement staff are to receive “tailored RPC training” and spend category-specific written guidance will be produced, along with a directory of supplier evaluation templates for more than 50 categories.

Councillor Paul Swaddle, cabinet member for finance and smart city at WCC, said: “We have set our ambitions high, and intend to take a tailored approach to delivering the Responsible Procurement and Commissioning Strategy, to channel the efforts made by our supply chain partners and achieve the greatest impact possible. 

“The requirements will be determined according to the nature and value of each contract and will be focused on areas of greatest risk and opportunity. We will set high standards, and will support suppliers in setting and achieving ambitious targets to reflect our renewed approach.”

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