Blue light services told to increase procurement collaboration

The government has urged police, fire and rescue forces to boost collaboration on procurement as data published yesterday shows more could be done to cut costs.

Fire service procurement data has been released for the first time – Photo credit: PA Wire

It is the first time that procurement data has been published for the fire and rescue services, a move that is part of reforms announced in May this year aiming to increase transparency and efficiency in the service.

The data show that although some authorities are collaborating to get better deals from suppliers, some are paying radically different amounts for the same equipment.

“It makes no sense for fire and rescue authorities to buy separately when there are both financial and operational benefits to buying together,” Brandon Lewis, minister for policing and the fire service, said in a statement. “There is a lot more that could be done.”

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The data covers what each of the 45 authorities in England paid for 25 common items of uniform and equipment, the last time they purchased them.

In terms of IT equipment, the data show that Avon spent the most on personal laptops, at a cost of £1,208 per unit, with five being purchased, while Northamptonshire spent the least, at a cost of £224 each for 12.

Meanwhile, Norfolk spent the most on personal desktop computers – £626 per unit, buying 11 devices – and Shropshire spending £162.11 each on 30 computers.

However, the government noted that because some of the purchases may have been made several years ago, the costs of the items – particularly electronic items – was likely to have changed in the interim.

In addition to publishing the data, the government has also set up a transformation fund to help fire services work better together.

One example of this use cited by the Home Office in its statement is the creation of a national procurement collaboration hub, which is being set up by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority, Kent Fire and Rescue Authority, and Essex Fire and Rescue Authority.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement about police procurement data, which is the second release of its kind, Lewis pointed to savings that had been made due to greater collaboration on procurement.

The Home Office said that, since 2010-11 forces have saved more than £290m on better collaboration, but with a total annual spend of £2.2bn on goods and services last year, Lewis said the police “must go further still”.

“It is absolutely essential that broad and deep collaboration within police procurement is the rule, not the exception,” Lewis said. “Police forces must continue to use their resources more efficiently by working together and PCCs must hold chief constables to account for this.”

The most recent police data shows that Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies paid the most for laptop purchases, spending £807.66 per unit on 20 laptops per force in February 2016. This was a collaborative purchase.

Gwent Police paid the least, spending £329.56 per unit, on one laptop, as part of a shared resource service collaboration for ICT provision with three public sector organisations, including Torfaen and Monmouthshire county councils.


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