Councils fail to make savings with National Procurement Strategy

Only a quarter of councils in England have succeeded in finding procurement savings following the introduction of the National Procurement Strategy (NPS) for local government two years ago.

Of the 248 councils who took part in the research, 186 of them reported no identified savings or no records of savings achieved.

The National Procurement Strategy was launched to encourage councils in England to improve the way they commission public services and manage suppliers. Its aim was to help local government get better value from the £38 billion spent every year with suppliers.

The NPS encouraged all councils in England to engage with the delivery of outcomes in four key areas: making savings, supporting local economies, leadership, and modernising procurement.

NPS guidelines ignored

Freedom of Information (FOI) requests found that only 34% of councils have carried out a review that specifically considered the NPS guidelines when making improvements to their procurement procedures. Half carried out general or ongoing reviews without specifically considering strategy, and 21% did not complete any reviews at all.

The FOI Requests were made by procurement company Blur Group; Chief Executive Philip Letts said:

“Progress is being made but it is patchy. It is clear that council leaders and executives need to do more to get to grips with their spend. When key public services are under pressure to the point of cutbacks and closures, a strategic response to managing spend and better procurement has to come quickly and from the top.”

He continued: “When looking at their procurement strategy, councils can no longer consider going digital as optional. It has to be done. A shift to digital will allow councils to tap into bigger and better supply bases, speed up sourcing and delivery of services, whilst immediately cutting costs without cutting public services.”

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