Monday, 14 February 2011

What Local wants from Central; contracts

There is one function that central government can perform for the benefit of all, one function that will ease and oil the transition from central to local, from functions carried out by the highest level to the lowest. And it's doing it already, but hogging the benefits to itself. That function is the letting of framework procurement contracts. 


If you're a local voluntary group after a new minibus, you may get quotes from local dealers who will offer perhaps 2% - 3% discount from list price, yet the government has framework contracts in place that could allow you 15% - 17% off list price if only you could use the contract. The government's Buying Solutions (incredibly just one of several central government purchasing bodies) boasts that it's contracted the price of 500,000 products and services through a network of 1,500 suppliers, including IT equipment and software, catering equipment, cleaning and janitorial supplies, lawyers, office supplies and equipment, accountants, surveyors and valuers, lamps and protective clothing. Yet local groups who are being invited to run local services can't use them. 


This is such an obvious home-goal I can't understand why the government hasn't dealt with it. It's the perfect eBay / Amazon model with minimal staff and costs at the centre, the drudge of setting up credit accounts, ordering, delivery, invoicing and payment all devolved to the suppliers and users. The greater the aggregate buying-power, the greater the discounts. 


There are of course a couple of arguments against, neither of them good ones. First is the local minibus dealer, a stalwart of the local Tory party, who makes a good profit from selling minibuses on a local 'who you know' basis and can't compete with a regional fleet supplier offering 16% off list. Then there's the risk that the fake charities that are little more than tax-efficient private firms will distort the market even further by enjoying bulk purchase prices that their truly commercial rivals can't access. As for the first, tough, sorry. For the second, it's high time Cameron appointed a new set of charity commissioners with a remit to 'comb out' all the fake charities from the register. 

2 comments:

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"a new set of charity commissioners with a remit to 'comb out' all the fake charities"

Indeed.

He could start at the top.

The sooner "Dame" "Suzi" Leather is put out to grass, the sooner things will start to improve.

themanwithmanychins said...

"For the second, it's high time Cameron appointed a new set of charity commissioners with a remit to 'comb out' all the fake charities from the register."

This is actually quite simple. Cut off ALL state funding of charities. Those that are genuine charities will survive as people will give money to them, those that are merely state funded lobby groups will wither and die.