Yearly accounts show increased commercial benefits for central government and wider public sector
The Crown Commercial Service’s annual report claims that the procurement agency saved the public sector a total of £601m during 2017/18 – more than £100m ahead of its target for the year.
For the year to the end of March 2018, £13bn was spent by the public sector through CCS commercial agreements. This represents a rise of about £600m on the prior year.
The increase can be entirely chalked up central government, where spending rose by about £700m year on year to a total of £6.7bn.
The remaining £6.3bn spent via CCS in FY18 came from the wider public sector.
CCS’s goal for the year was to generate £13.5bn in spending via its various procurement vehicles. It passed its target of £6.6bn in central government, but spending from the wider public sector did not rise at all last year – leaving it some way short of its £6.9bn goal.
During the year, CCS claims that it “enabled its customers to achieve commercial benefits worth £601m”.
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About three-fifths of these benefits were realised by central government entities, who saved a collective £354m. The rest of the public sector achieved cumulative savings of £247m.
Here, CCS exceeded its targets in both central government and the wider public sector, which had respective annual savings goals of £240m and £230m.
The procurement agency also paid its bills promptly during the year, with all supplier invoices paid within 30 days. The vast majority – 94% – were paid within five days.
The accounts also contain details of the progress that has been made – and the challenges faced – in the ongoing work to build the Crown Marketplace platform. The project recently reached the end of its test phase and is beginning the development process.
In his foreword, soon-to-depart chief executive Malcolm Harrison said that, while CCS does not have all the answers about the project’s future yet, it remains committed to providing digital access to as many of its frameworks as possible.
“We learned some hard lessons in the test phase about what works and what doesn’t, and there are still considerable gaps in our understanding that the test phase did not adequately address,” he said. “It is, however, even clearer that the opportunity is enormous from digitising access to our commercial agreements.”
Harrison added: “CCS has come a long way and will continue to evolve and improve. CCS has some ambitious goals and there will be challenges ahead – it will take time for the organisation to realise its full potential – and I have no doubt that CCS will go from strength to strength in the coming years.”