Agenda and draft minutes

Finance and Corporate Services Select Committee - Thursday, 20th October, 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 5 - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Neil Fraser  01895 250692

Items
No. Item

27.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Mathers.

28.

Declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting

Minutes:

None.

29.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 241 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 06 September 2022 be approved as a correct record.

30.

To confirm that the items of business marked as Part I will be considered in Public and that the items marked as Part II will be considered in Private

Minutes:

It was confirmed that all items would be considered in public.

31.

Review - 1st Witness Session - Procurement within Hillingdon pdf icon PDF 254 KB

Minutes:

Matthew Kelly - Head of Procurement, provided the Committee with the legal and regulatory context for the operation of Hillingdon’s Procurement Team. Mr Kelly was supported by Rebecca Rees, Partner and Head of Public Procurement at Trowers law firm.

 

Procurement Bill

 

Following the UK’s exit from the European Union, the Procurement Bill had been drafted take advantage of opportunities resulting from Brexit, and to reform public procurement to ensure it was “quicker, simpler, and more transparent” while “remaining compliant with international obligations”. This included empowering authorities to set their own policies, for example when creating policies governing smaller value ‘below threshold’ contracts. Officers would in future be allowed the freedom to create bespoke polices that could take into account a broader definition of value (i.e. not just lowest price), including local business, social, and environmental considerations. However, these additional powers would come with the caveat that there would be a greater administrative burden due to the requirement for increased transparency and reporting.

 

The Bill was currently under review and transitioning through Parliament, with various amendments being made following comments received though the consultation process. There was no final date for when it would become law, though it was expected to receive Royal Assent in Q1 or Q2 of 2023, before then coming into effect in 2024. Once in effect, authorities would be granted a six-month implementation period to ensure sufficient training and upskilling of staff, together with the embedding of any new polices and processes.

 

It had been recognised that there had been an expectation that, following Brexit, there would be greater freedom to rework procurement policies from the ground up. However, the new Bill contained what were in effect lighter versions of current EU policies. Where the Bill was significantly different was through its promotion of innovation and flexibility to allow local authorities to design processes that met both Council priorities and the needs of the market.

 

Building social responsibility into procurement would likely require a cultural change for local authorities. The new Bill would allow for a wider definition of ‘value’, which would allow authorities to move away from procuring based solely on lowest initial cost, and instead allow for costs across the entirety of the contract term, or other benefits. It was recognised that due to current financial constraints, local authorities were under pressure to deliver savings immediately, and so further discussions on what value was, and how to achieve it, would be required.

 

The Committee was advised that Hillingdon was well placed to respond to newly required policies and take advantage of new opportunities resulting from the Bill, through regular monitoring and oversight together with support from key partners such as Trowers. Through the provision of a six-month implementation period, government was accepting that a period of adjustment would be required. Opportunities included securing better value through procuring to a greater number of smaller organisations, though this would require additional staff oversight within contract management.

 

The National Procurement Policy Statement

 

The National Procurement Policy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the Cabinet Forward Plan be noted.

33.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 157 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the Committee’s Work Programme be noted.