Headlines: March 30th, 2005

The London Boroughs of Lewisham, Lambeth, Southwark, Bromley, Greenwich and Bexley have formed a partnership to procure services for the Supporting People programme. They have signed a contract with Exor Management Services who will carry out the accreditation of suppliers on their behalf. Exor will make sure that some 270 housing associations, voluntary agencies individuals and companies who supply housing related support have a track record of quality and delivery and are financially viable.The Supporting People programme was launched in April 2003 to provide a better quality of life for vulnerable people to live more independently and maintain their tenancies. The programme provides housing related support to prevent problems that can often lead to hospitalisation; institutional care or homelessness and can help the smooth transition to independent living for those leaving an institutionalised environment. The programme is delivered locally by 150 Administering Authorities with over 6,000 suppliers. Nationally there are some 37,000 individual contracts.

The benefits to partnership members is that the accreditation burden will be removed and for suppliers they will no longer have to submit voluminous evidence for accreditation when they are bidding for a contract with a member of the partnership. The database will also provide information that will allow partners to see if they have sufficient suppliers, in relation to the money that is being spent on particular categories of goods or services.

Procurement was identified in the Gershon review of efficiency as a key area for making savings and the latest research confirms that 1.1bn pounds of cost savings can be made nationally by local authorities as a consequence of modernising their processes. The target is that all councils should have e-procurement solutions in place by the 31st December 2005. This should include a minimum paperless ordering system and invoicing and payment scheme.