Suffolk County Council in savings pledge

SUFFOLK councillors have claimed they will save £26million over the next five years by changing the way they buy goods and services from outside firms.

SUFFOLK councillors have claimed they will save £26million over the next five years by changing the way they buy goods and services from outside firms.

It is the first outward sign that the county council is trying to cut spending, following the public uproar over its 18.5% record breaking increase in council tax imposed in April.

The decision, taken this week, follows a hard-hitting report from an all-party working party of councillors which criticised the "lack of co-operation between departments that is impacting unfavourably on procurement effectiveness."

The report, compiled by council members Kevan Lim (Labour), Peter Aldous (Conservative) and Peter Monk (Liberal Democrat), found "tensions" between the technical professionals in charge of council services and those responsible for buying outside goods and services.

The councillors found that the tensions arose because the professionals believed the involvement of others in contract award, design and management "would erode their position."

Dismissing these fears, the executive committee has established an all-party procurement board to take responsibility for all the authority's purchasing and the implementation of a best value improvement plan.

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The decision means Suffolk has become one of the first authorities in the country to adopt a corporate approach to the purchase of buying goods and services.

Ray Nowak, member of the county council's executive committee and portfolio holder for finance, physical and human resources said the decision would save millions of pounds a year and lead to a better deal for local and regional suppliers.

"Channelling all our buying through a single source increases our purchasing power and makes sure we get the best value for Suffolk people.

"We can also give priority to local and regional suppliers. We expect Suffolk businesses will benefit from this review and get a better chance to compete for a share of our budget for goods and services," said Mr Nowak.

The county council currently spends £260 million a year on good and services, and adopting the new approach will enable the council to save 10% on its buying over the next five years.

Other innovations such as computerised buying and processing of orders will also lead to seven-figure savings.

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