The chief executive of Nottingham based procurement specialist Scape has given advice to central government’s Communities and Local Government Committee (CLG) on the value of collaborative procurement to local authorities.

Mark Robinson, who has worked for Scape since 2009, was invited to the latest meeting of the CLG on 4 November, where he spoke about his organisation’s aims to serve the needs of the public sector by providing it with cost effective and safe procurement routes.

Scape is owned by six East Midlands local authorities and has to date, under Mark’s leadership, achieved £200 million in savings for its public sector clients.

Mark has over 20 years’ experience in local government, giving him valuable insight into the pressures faced by authorities. His experience and reputation as a local government procurement expert led to him being asked by the CLG – a body which monitors the policy, administration and spending of the Department for Communities and Local Government and its associated bodies – to speak at its latest enquiry.

The meeting took the form of an oral evidence session as part of the CLG’s enquiry into local government procurement. Mark explained the value of collaborative procurement to local authorities and highlighted the value and efficiencies gained through streamlined and collaborative procurement processes.

Mark explained that: “Fundamental to saving public sector money is our handling of the procurement process.

“Public procurement isn’t as simple as picking up the phone and choosing a local contractor.  Any public sector body procuring a contract are bound by EU procurement directives and typically this process will take around six to nine months. By choosing Scape this work is already done for them. Scape has already conducted rigorous and robust procurement exercises so that clients do not have to.”

The committee raised concerns that large, national procurement arrangements would take work from smaller local contractors and damage regional economies. In response, Scape was able to demonstrate the value to local supply chains that it provides.

Mark added: “Scape ensures that our procurement arrangements actually guarantee work will be delivered locally.  All of Scape’s suppliers have offices all over the UK.  Unlike other framework agreements, Scape’s frameworks support local communities by making it a contractual requirement that local companies are sourced to carry out work and form the core supply chain.

“Scape sets targets for local employment and more than 50 per cent of all construction orders are delivered by contractors/suppliers who are within 20 miles of the site where the building works are taking place.”

Mark explained to the committee the importance of a dynamic shift in local authorities’ attitudes to procurement. Recent statistics show that construction projects in the public sector finish 43 per cent over budget and 63 per cent late. To reverse this trend, Mark said local government need to adopt a radical approach and take strong dynamic action to ensure local authorities can continue to operate and deliver front line services in this harsh economic environment.

Mark added: “Local government would benefit from a more centralised approach to procurement.  This would involve setting up a specialist umbrella organisation to run the procurement activities of local authorities. Scape already works with 330 public authorities across the UK and provides the most cost efficient route to market for the public sector. There is no reason why this model could not be rolled out across the UK.”