Progressing procurement processes and practice in Manchester

Around ten years ago, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) started undertaking work around public procurement. Our interest in procurement was three-fold. First, we wanted to understand more effectively where procurement spend went and the impact in particular it had upon local economies. Second, we wanted to shift the behaviour of procurement officers so that a wider range of factors informed the procurement decision. Third, we wanted to influence the behaviour of suppliers so that they delivered greater benefits for local economies and people through the provision of goods and services.

We have worked with over 200 local authorities in the UK in that time period to understand their spend; a range of anchor institutions within place to understand, change behaviour, and influence practice around procurement; and now with 11 cities across Europe to support the development of progressive procurement action plans.

Key to the above programme of work around procurement has been our relationship with Manchester City Council. Starting with a piece of work in 2008/09 to develop a baseline position around where the Council’s procurement spend went; the work has evolved into real co-produced policy and practice change around the process of procurement. Today, we launch our reflections on that work and particularly what we have collaboratively done over the last ten years and what we have achieved.

In terms of achievements ‘The Power of Procurement II: the policy and practice of Manchester City Council – 10 years on‘ outlines a number:

  • The development of a Corporate Procurement Department has enabled £65million of efficiency savings;
  • The function of procurement is now at the heart of corporate strategy in Manchester City Council;
  • Commissioners and procurers now work more collaboratively; as do procurers and economic development practitioners;
  • The culture of the procurement team has changed so it can identify with wider challenges; and Manchester City Council is seen as being at the forefront of progressive procurement nationally;
  • Direct spend through procurement into the Manchester economy has increased from 51.5% in 2008/09 to 73.6% in 2015/16; with spending across wards diversifying;
  • Spend in areas of deprivation has decreased from 47.6% to 39.6% suggesting improvements in those neighbourhoods;
  • Direct spend with SMEs has increased from 46.6% to 53.3%;
  • Supplier re-spend back in the Manchester economy has increased from 25p in every £1 in 2008/09 to 43p in every £1 in 2015/16;
  • Suppliers are delivering a wide array of economic, social and environmental impact through procurement;
  • There is a more effective procurer to supplier relationship.

In addition to the direct benefits, the core findings from the 2015/16 analysis were that in the last year, the top 300 suppliers to Manchester City Council created or offered an estimated:

Core to the work in Manchester has been a political and officer level desire to make change, and a collaborative arrangement with CLES where action and evidenced impact have been at the forefront. CLES will continue to work with Manchester City Council moving forward to realise further benefit both through the direct approach of the City Council to procurement and in the behaviour of the supply chain.

Matthew Jackson is the Deputy Chief Executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES)