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Wednesday 10 October 2012

Brent Council Procurement Dilemma

I have been thinking more about Brent Council's procurement policies, which seem to set up a fundamental question for us.  A little while ago, I went to training on the subject, which turned out to be exceptionally interesting. 

Previously, I had been worried about the possibilities of legal action, which still concern me.  The requirements of the Social Value Act, the Localism Act and the longstanding EU procurement rules all give plenty of tripwires for local Councils to fall over. 

Changes in EU procurement have made suing public bodies a much more profitable exercise.  The old way of doing things meant that if you successfully challenged a procurement as being unfair, the process had to be rerun.  This didn't particularly advantage the company making the challenge.  The new situation is that a successful challenger can be awarded the profits it would have made had it won the contract.  Legal challenges are thereby encouraged, and I have heard rumours that some companies are building a number of challenges into their business models.

However, the bigger challenge is to using procurement policy to encourage the local economy in Brent.  This is a key objective of Brent Labour Party, but it runs into a difficult choice.  Certain measures, such as designing contracts in smaller lots to make them open to smaller companies (i.e. the kind that might be based in Brent), could lead to a higher cost for the taxpayer.  Failing to achieve all possible savings in procurement means finding savings elsewhere in the Budget.  In other words, seeking to design procurement policy to benefit local companies may well end up in deeper cuts to public services and hurt Brent residents as service users.

A difficult choice.


Anonymous said...

How stupid for both Tories/Labour not to see consequences of their both embracing/promoting privatisation. Understandable for the Tories, not so much Labour.
When will you ever learn?

Anonymous said...

Guess, some things, if they're to be done properly, can't be done 'on the cheap'!

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