Procurement and Commissioning Strategy
As central government funding decreases, it is important that the Council spends its money strategically, so that it can continue to deliver services which are efficient and able to manage the future demands of our community. This Strategy introduces objectives which align with the Council's corporate priorities, setting goals to create benefits for the Borough while at the same time adhering to sound commercial, best value and governance principles. One of the key themes of this Strategy will be to make procurement and opportunities more accessible to businesses local to the Borough, while maintaining a fair and transparent approach.
2. What is Procurement and why is it important?
Procurement is the process which the Council must follow in order to purchase third party goods, services and works. This could be something simple, such as stationery, or the provision of a complex service, such as the appointment of an external provider for refuse collection. The processes the Council follows are defined by procurement legislation, which underpins the Contract Standing Orders in the Council's Constitution. The Council will apply the highest professional standards when spending money on behalf of taxpayers, so that it can provide the best possible services whilst keeping tax down and reducing our dependence on central government funding.
As a public sector buyer, Great Yarmouth Borough Council spends in excess of £50 million per year on contracts. This money is used to procure the third party supplies, works and services which help to us deliver key services to the public. By thinking strategically about how we procure these services, we can support the Council's wider social, economic and environmental objectives and help stimulate a vibrant local economy. By building relationships and increasing our knowledge of local businesses, we can work to increase the proportion the Council spends within the Borough, which directly feeds into one of the Council's Corporate Priorities: "a strong and growing economy".
We are committed to ensuring our procurement benefits the Borough by adding social value. By creating job opportunities and supporting the local supply chain, we can have an impact on our local community. In conjunction with the Council's Contract Standing Orders, this Strategy will outline the Council's key objectives, principles, goals and responsibilities in its strategic approach to procurement.
4. Central Government Intentions - Transforming Public Procurement
In December 2020, the Cabinet Office set out proposals for shaping the future of public procurement legislation with the publication of a Green Paper, 'Transforming Public Procurement'. The overarching goals of these proposals are to speed up and simplify our procurement processes, place value for money at their heart, generate social value and unleash opportunities for small businesses, charities and social enterprises to innovate in public service delivery.
A procurement regime that is simple, flexible and takes greater account of social value can play a big role in contributing to the Government's levelling-up goals.
Procurement reform has previously had to work within the framework of EU based regulations. The most recent EU procurement Directives were transposed into UK law in 2015 and 2016. Following the UK's exit from the EU, there is now an opportunity to develop and implement a new procurement regime, moving away from the complex EU rules-based approach that was designed first and foremost to facilitate the single market, and instead adopt a new simplified approach that prioritises boosting growth and productivity in the UK, maximising value for money and social value, promoting efficiency, innovation and transparency.
5. The Objectives of the Council's Strategy
The Council's corporate priorities are:
- A strong and growing economy
- Improved housing and strong communities
- High-quality and sustainable environment
- An efficient and effective council
This Strategy sets out below a number of objectives - which the Council will seek to focus on throughout all procurement activity. The objectives are aimed to align with and support the Council's corporate priorities. The objectives of this Strategy are:
Growing and encouraging opportunities for the local economy
We will do this by: Building resources and directories of local businesses for staff to use pre-procurement; holding 'meet the buyer' events to warm up the local market and ensure local providers are aware of upcoming opportunities. We want to involve our communities and local businesses in shaping our approach to procurement and commissioning, and we will consult with local businesses to get feedback on working with the Council. We will develop and implement a local supplier engagement plan including the use of targeted communication to local suppliers; and we will encourage use of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).
Creating Social Value
We will do this by: considering social value in writing specifications, award criteria and contracts; by ensuring our contractors are considering social factors, establishing prompt payment down the local supply chain; by identifying benefits that we achieve in our contracts for the community, particularly in deprived areas (e.g. new facilities, jobs or an improved living space); by encouraging all new procurement activities to include apprenticeships as part of their selection criteria. We will consider the social value our contracting opportunities can add to our community's economic, social and environmental wellbeing - where possible, splitting larger contracts into lots to encourage SMEs to bid.
Supporting the Council's Sustainability Strategy; supporting delivery of the the Carbon Reduction Action Plan - working towards a carbon net zero target of 2035
We will do this by: embedding sustainable principles into our commissioning and contracting activities to 'green' the economy; by encouraging all new procurement activities to consider sustainability criteria as part of their selection such as the use of green energy and the offset of carbon emissions; by ensuring that we consider our environmental objectives in all new procurements and in our contract management activities; by (where appropriate) including the reduction of waste and the delivery of our high environmental standards in service area contract management.
Increasing staff knowledge and support throughout the procurement cycle
We will do this by: providing regular training to all commissioning officers to ensure that they follow best practice; assessing skills and knowledge requirements within the service areas, developing a planned approach to delivering procurement updates and training.
Mitigation of the risk of legal challenges
We will do this by: combining sound governance, transparency, accountability and probity with proportionality in our operational processes; ensuring that our policies and procedures reflect the latest legislation and are fit for purpose, including regular review of value thresholds and procurement routes.
Delivering better value contracts and savings to the taxpayer
WE WILL DO THIS BY: establishing performance reporting to include savings opportunities and capturing other key procurement indicators such as commercial and social benefits; by providing accurate contract management information to support commercial risk management and improve our forward planning capability.
A simpler and more commercially focused experience for partners and contractors
We will do this by: working with external stakeholders including businesses and the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to understand and remove barriers to our procurements. By working with external partners such as Crown Commercial Services, ESPO, Procurement for Housing, Eastern Procurement Ltd. and the East of England LGA
6. Good Principles of Procurement
At the centre of this Strategy are the best practice principles which underpin the processes the Council follows in commissioning services: transparency, integrity, economy, openness, fairness, competition and accountability. Below are some of the practical steps the Council will take to embed these principles in its processes.
Economy and Competition
PRE-MARKET ANALYSIS - the procurement service will assist officers in choosing the best route for procurement, checking for duplications in service to rationalise contracts where appropriate. The Council's procurement service will support the Council to achieve this by:
- conducting gap analysis of current contracts
- identifying opportunities for partnership working with other public sector organisations
- advising staff on the appropriate procurement process for an individual procurement
MARKET RESEARCH - the Council needs to build its knowledge so that it can identify as many businesses that can deliver the community's requirements as possible and create a competitive tendering process. We will achieve this by:
- Conducting regular benchmarking exercises throughout contracts to stay informed on trends in value, quality and industry standards.
- Finding new ways to connect with the local market and advertise our opportunities by making use of electronic tendering and social media, while ensuring that our opportunities are accessible to all in our community.
Transparency, openness and accountability
Central government transparency requirements enforce a number of changes to the way public contracting bodies record procurement activity. We will achieve this by publishing the following on our website:
- A quarterly contracts register
- Spending over £500 and purchase card purchases
- Performance on paying contractors within 30 days
- Advertising and publication of tender documents on Contracts Finder and Find a Tender (where legally required)
Fairness and consistency
We want everyone who does business with the Council to have the same experience; our processes should be straightforward, efficient and modern. We will achieve this by:
- A new approach to evaluating tenders through improved award criteria which consider quality and price proportionately.
- Use of an electronic tendering system to ensure we are compliant with government legislation on the provision of fully electronic procurement while still supporting those local suppliers that might not use online services.
- Developing standardised documents to ensure that procurement practice is consistent across all parts of the Council.
7. Legislative and Constitutional Context
The UK is no longer subject to EU regulations and now follows UK domestic legislation. As far as the applicability of public procurement rules to the Council's procedures is concerned (for contract values above the thresholds) from the 1st of January 2021, the UK no longer follows rules outlined for OJEU tenders. Tenders are now be published on a new e-tendering portal, called Find a Tender Service (FTS) instead of on OJEU.
In terms of the wider public procurement framework, the UK is now a member of the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). This allows for the UK to have equal rights to bid on public sector contracts that are proposed by EU members and/or those in agreement with the GPA, and vice versa. The WTO's GPA also governs procurement thresholds.
The Government plans to produce a draft Bill in 2022. Further to the new legislation the Government will also introduce new secondary legislation or regulations to implement the new regime and produce "a detailed and comprehensive package of published resources (statutory and non-statutory guidance on the key elements of the regulatory framework, templates, model procedures and case studies)" (extract from the Green Paper) to help contracting authorities and suppliers understand how the new regime will work. Due to significant changes and the amount of work required to bring this all into effect it is unlikely that the new regime will be implemented until 2023 at the earliest.