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Buying better thanks to a team of experts

Buying better thanks to a team of experts

August 23, 2019
Council budget - funding from government cut by almost two thirds

A team of experts is helping the council spend in a smarter way – and protecting frontline services by doing so.

Public sector organisations have a duty to get the best value for money for tax payers, and Ealing Council is no exception. Its Future Ealing programme is about making things better at a time of government funding cuts.

Over the last 10 years, the council’s government funding has been cut by 64%. Or, put another way, for every £1 the council used to receive, it now gets just 36p. At the same time, demand is increasing for its services, especially among vulnerable adults and children.

Contracts and savings

The council has responded by looking at everything it does – and that has included bringing in a new team of commercial experts with a wealth of up-to-date knowledge on contract negotiation and large-scale buying. And it is starting to pay off.

In fact, just three months into the financial year, the council had already saved £3.7million by late June. It was a target it had not expected to achieve until March 2020.

This has involved finding ways to reduce costs but also by making contracts work more efficiently; in other words, getting more for less. And the team is on track to save even more.

It has managed to slice off almost £2million by renegotiating or changing contracts. Added to these have been a whole raft of smaller savings.

It is all part of the council’s Future Ealing programme, to help make the borough a better place to live and work by finding a way to achieve the best results and protect critical services at a time of smaller budgets.

Protecting the frontline

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, the council’s cabinet member for finance and leisure, said: “The more we save in this way, the more it helps to protect the frontlines services that our most vulnerable residents depend on most.

“We are doing more than just looking at existing contracts. We are also making sure that we get the best value for money we can when we enter into new ones – and using our buying power to grow apprenticeship opportunities and to be as green as we can. And we are looking to see how we can raise money in other ways by selling our team’s expertise to other council and public bodies.”