21 June 2016 | Jamie Harris
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has found that three-quarters of councils in England are unable to identify savings achieve from efficiency reviews since the launch of the National Procurement Strategy in 2014.
The request, made by procurement managed services platform provider Blur Group, found that 186 of the 248 English councils that have reviewed procurement procedures since 2014 have either failed to identify savings, or had no record of savings achieved.
The FOI request was made to all English councils, including district, city, county and unitary councils, on 22 March, and 318 councils responded, with 30 councils not responding to the request by 31 May.
The National Procurement Strategy, published and announced by the Local Government Association at its annual conference two years, ago, included a set of recommendations to review and make efficiency improvements to their procurement procedures, including the procurement of facilities management services.
A fifth of councils said that had not carried out any reviews, while 45 per cent said that reviews were being carried out without specifically considering the strategy.
Analysis by the Financial Times in 2015 found that local government services spending has been cut by a fifth since 2010 - totalling £18 billion in real terms.
Philip Letts, CEO of Blur Group, said: "Progress is being made, but it is patchy. It is clear that council leaders and executives need to do more to get to grips with their spend. We know financial settlements for local government are tight.
"When key public services are under pressure to the point of cutbacks and closures in areas as vital as adult social care and housing, this has to be a priority. A strategic response to managing spend and better procurement has to come quickly, and from the top."
Local authorities that have reviewed procedures have looked to alternative funding models to sustain frontline services, such as shared services and joint venture agreements with FM contractors.