Efficiency: Scottish local authorities are warned to avoid English mistakes

Feb 15, 2008

In their efforts to become more efficient, Scottish local authorities must avoid the traps that English local government has fallen into, a leading efficiency expert has warned.

As local authorities gear up to address the challenges of CSR07, Ken Cole launched his 'white paper', Implementing McClelland, Learning from Byatt (PDF 1mb), at a local authority efficiency conference held today (1 February) in Stirling.

The white paper represents a thorough analysis of the English and Scottish approaches to efficiency. He concludes that Scottish public services have so far responded much more effectively than their English counterparts and are in a strong position to deliver major efficiencies in the £8bn they spend each year with third parties.

But, he warns, they must not fall into the traps that have befallen English local government in its approach to SR04. In response, Ken sets out the key ingredients necessary to deliver greater efficiency and better outcomes:

  • local government spend cannot be seen in isolation from spend by other public services
  • a commodity-by-commodity approach should be sought across public services, concentrating particularly on high value spend
  • projects and action must be championed at the highest levels, both nationally and locally
  • collaboration between authorities and public services must be embedded from the outset
  • market intelligence is a pre-requisite in order to base strategies, projects and business cases on robust data
  • scarce procurement resources should be shared across public services
  • the separation of procurement, contracting and commissioning is artificial
  • a tick box mentality must be avoided – ensure the link between better procurement and better services for local people is constantly made

Ken Cole said, 'The prize for Scottish public services is huge but the opportunities to get it wrong or get side-tracked must be avoided. So far, the Scottish public sector, including local government, has responded well but it's important that Scotland learns the lessons of English local government if it is to successfully implement McClelland's recommendations.'

Notes to editors

  1. John McClelland published his Review of Public Procurement in Scotland in 2006 setting out 74 recommendations on how Scotland's £8bn third party spend can be reduced and services improved.
  2. Ken Cole's white paper was launched today (1 February) at the conference, New Approaches to Efficiency and Collaborative Working – Beyond the McClelland Report, which brought together some of the leading thinkers, analysts and practitioners in public sector efficiency with representatives from Scottish local authorities. The event was organised by SPS, a leading efficiency consultancy.
  3. A photograph of Ken Cole speaking at the conference is attached.
  4. Copies of the white paper are available at www.sps-consultancy.co.uk
  5. Ken Cole is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and has held senior efficiency and procurement positions across Whitehall. He is currently finishing a secondment as the Director of the London Centre of Excellence where he has been responsible for developing innovative and successful projects, including the award winning London Authorities Mutual Limited and Parking in Partnerships. He is a founding member of SPS.

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Seth Brook
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