Councils must make further savings on £5 billion spend
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Finance
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Scotland's local authorities have improved how they manage procurement but they can achieve further benefits and savings on their £5.4 billion spend, according to the Accounts Commission.
Every year the country's councils spend around £1,010 for every person on procurement buying goods and services they need - ranging from construction materials to IT and social care.
Procurement savings of £71 million were reported in 2012/13.
In a report published today, the commission says councils have made progress since the Scottish government launched new initiatives in 2006, and local authorities established Scotland Excel, a body which pools purchasing power to buy more services collaboratively.
Use of collaborative contracts has increased by 80% over the last three years and total annual spending on such contracts is now £503m.
However, the report says that councils could achieve more savings while maintaining or improving service quality. Moving from paper to electronic payment systems, for example, could yield £9m alone.
Accounts Commission chair Douglas Sinclair said: "Councils need to secure maximum value for the money they spend as budgets continue to tighten. Better use of procurement can improve quality and bring benefits to their local communities
"Some councils have done well by looking at all the options, investing in the right skills and systems and learning from each other. But there is scope to do a lot more and the pace of improvement needs to increase."