18 Aug 2009 11:39 AM
Joint buying by fire services to benefit local communities

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 18 August 2009

Better value for money and millions of pounds of savings could be achieved by Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) joining up to buy goods and services, says a new procurement strategy published today by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The National Procurement Strategy for the Fire and Rescue Service in England 2009-12 encourages Authorities to work together to achieve their joint needs while achieving best value through bulk buying.

By co-ordinating their buying, Fire and Rescue Authorities could save at least £3.5million a year from the £100million they spend on goods and services such as vehicles, ladders and breathing apparatus.

FRAs are also being encouraged to consider how their choice of suppliers can help increase career and training opportunities for local people to benefit the economy and build Britain’s future.

As part of the new strategy, Communities Secretary John Denham is encouraging Fire and Rescue Authorities to explore the potential for skills development, apprenticeships and innovation when joint-purchasing from suppliers.

Communities Secretary John Denham said:
“The new Procurement Strategy for the Fire and Rescue Service will help Authorities achieve value for money especially if they join up to buy a product they all need. More efficient purchasing by Fire and Rescue Authorities should enable them to save millions of pounds to make the taxpayers’ pound go further.

“But it is not just about what money is spent on, but how it is spent. If FRAs look at a wider range of suppliers, including smaller companies, they have the opportunity to find the best products to purchase, foster innovation, help to create jobs and support local business.”

By widening the range of companies invited to tender, and including smaller and medium sized enterprises, increased demand for products may enable more jobs to be created. The strategy also recommends making it easier and less costly for smaller companies to apply by simplifying and standardising paperwork.

The Strategy also recommends that FRAs using professional buying organisations - such as Buying Solutions, Central Buying Consortium, the National Policing Improvement Agency and Firebuy – will gain the most favourable contract terms and value for money for the taxpayer. The new strategy encourages local Fire and Rescue Authorities to widen their suppliers list and thus choice of products because this will help them to get the very best product for the job.

This Strategy is just one part of wider Government initiatives that aim to get better value for tax payers’ money and support economic development. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills announced recently that every small business will now have access free of charge to the Government’s website www.supply2government.gov.uk which is the official government portal for the advertisement of lower-value (typically below £100,000) contract opportunities. This has the potential to include FRA contracts. Searching for lower-value contracts across the UK was previously only available as part of a commercial subscription service, which cost up to £180 per year.

Notes to Editors

1. The National Procurement Strategy for the Fire and Rescue Service in England 2009-12 is published on the Communities and Local Government website: www.communities.gov.uk/documents/fire/pdf/frsprocurement2009

2. Supply2.gov.uk is the official government portal for the advertisement of lower-value (typically below £100,000) contract opportunities, and provides small businesses with access to lower-value public sector contracts. www.supply2government.gov.uk

3. The site allows businesses to view contracts in a single location, reducing the time taken to source opportunities, unites buyers and suppliers and is cited as a best practice means of advertising lower-value contract opportunities by HM Treasury and the European Commission. This announcement is a move towards delivering on a key recommendation outlined in the Glover Review – that by the end of 2010 all public sector contract opportunities should be accessible through a single, free online web portal.

4. SMEs include social enterprises, black and minority ethnic enterprises, women’s and disabled owned enterprises and the voluntary community sector.

Contacts:

Doreen Melville-Riddell
Phone: 020 7944 3288 Out of hours 020 7944 5945
press.office@communities.gsi.gov.uk