‘Ridiculous’ EU procurement rules hindering councils’ efficiency efforts

Wednesday August 15th, 2012

The Local Government Association (LGA) has produced a Procurement Pledge which commits local and central government to work more closely on EU procurement rules.

The Association is concerned that moves are ahead which could make it virtually impossible for councils to give preference to local suppliers, and will force those wishing to pool services with neighbouring local authorities into an unnecessarily lengthy and costly EU-wide tendering process.

The LGA fears that instead of addressing the problems in the current system, an up-coming revision of the procurement regulations is in danger of making them worse. The Association is calling on the Government to go into battle for the UK and ensure the re-write of the European Directives delivers for British council tax payers.

Council leaders want a significant increase in what they see as a ‘ludicrously low’ £170,000 procurement threshold above which local government has to open up contracts to the entire EU. This is a process which takes several months to complete and creates a significant and costly barrier to entering a money-saving shared service agreement with a neighbouring authority.

Councils also want more freedom to award contracts to local suppliers, including the relaxation of rules which currently demand that contracts with employee organisations or staff mutuals be opened up to providers across Europe.

Cllr Peter Fleming, Chairman of the LGA’s Improvement Board, said: “Ridiculous EU procurement rules are making it harder for councils to save money by sharing services, and opportunities to promote local jobs and economic growth are being missed. Opaque Internal Market regulations, which fail to distinguish public sector goals from the private sector’s profit motive, are standing in the way of councils delivering better value for money to tax payers.

“Local authorities have the best record on procurement in the public sector, spending nearly half of procurement budgets with small to medium-sized businesses and teaming up with each other to get lower prices on everything from office paper to complex IT systems.”

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