To consider the attached updated Procurement Strategy for 2021 – 2026 and Procurement Rules of Jan 2021. (Please note: Amendments to the Procurement Rules (January 2021) have been made so that any references to EU law have been replaced with relevant UK law).
The Procurement and Contract Development Team Manager, S McNamara, reported that the current Procurement Strategy was renewed in January 2021 to reflect how Procurement could support the delivery of the Council’s Corporate Objectives and Covid-19 recovery plan by increasing the number of local suppliers invited to tender, and paying local suppliers faster. Social value and sustainability evaluation criteria were being used wherever possible in procurement exercises to maximise the benefits to the District and to ensure sustainable practices throughout the Council’s supply chains. The creation of a social value matrix measured contractors on elements such as the locality of their business, their supply chains, workforce and any other benefits they might bring to the District. A procurement checklist guided officers through a step by step process and helped officers meet the socially sustainable evaluation criteria. The Procurement Rules had been updated to ensure these changes were adopted into everyday practices, but the Rules also needed to be incorporated into the Constitution.
Members raised the following questions:
· How did the Council guarantee local suppliers were paid within 30 days?
· Would the Procurement Team invite tenders to compete against Qualis?
· Could feedback on the experience and use of the social value matrix since January 2021 be reported back to a scrutiny committee?
· It would be useful for a scrutiny select committee to receive a progress report on this and the use of apprentices or work placements, which would help people, and was easier to do for local companies. Were new local companies coming forward?
· Support for the Essex Procurement Hub that was a good resource owing to the cost savings the Council had achieved, which helped to keep Council Tax low, but were there any other procurement hubs that could be beneficial to the Council that it was not a part of yet?
S McNamara replied that electronic invoices were usually paid within 21 days. He did not know the KPI performance figures although he could research data after the meeting, if required. Qualis would be treated as an internal supplier but if Procurement officers felt the need to include their details with external suppliers, this could be done on a case by case basis. So far, six or seven projects had requested that bidders complete the social value matrix and officers had received some good responses back, so they were happily surprised at the take up. However, other local authorities were also doing this already. Officers had to find two companies rather than one, and more local suppliers were coming forward. The social value matrix could technically be changed to include work placements, which officers could amend on request. Other procurement hubs had not been implemented as the Essex Procurement Hub was working very well and brought the Council savings. The resources the Council had received since joining and becoming a member of the Essex Procurement Hub was most cost effective and efficient. There were also working groups within procurement where best practice was shared.
Councillor J Philip, Portfolio Holder (Finance, Qualis Client and Economic Development), was fully supportive of the updated Procurement Rules and Strategy as it was helping to promote economic development within the District. The Council’s Economic Development Team was reaching out to businesses with its newsletter – Epping Forest Business Matters. He supported a report going to a scrutiny committee to track relevant KPIs, such as to cover invoice payments, so positive progress could be highlighted.
(1) That the Working Group noted the updated Procurement Strategy for 2021 – 2026; and
(2) That the Working Group recommended to Council the incorporation of the updated Procurement Rules of August 2021 within Part 4 of the Constitution.