Mark Whitehead 10 August 2018

Northamptonshire CC plan to save £70m ‘very tall order’

Crisis-hit Northamptonshire CC may face serious hurdles making savings by renegotiating contracts with third-party suppliers, a leading public sector procurement expert has warned.

Ken Cole of SPS Consultancy, who recently worked with the Local Government Association (LGA) on improving procurement practice, said the council's plan to save £70m by renegotiating contracts will be 'a very tall order'.

About 70% of Northamptonshire's £442m budget is currently spent with outside suppliers on services ranging from construction to residential care to transport.

Mr Cole said there was a danger companies would 'walk away' if they found the council's requests to reduce the scope of contracts or change payment terms unacceptable.

The warning follows an emergency meeting in which the council agreed an action plan to draw up a new budget spelling out how the money can be saved.

The Conservative-controlled council's leader Matt Golby said it would not be an easy process and admitted 'there will be difficult decisions ahead'.

Children's services, road maintenance and waste management are among the areas facing radical cuts aimed at reducing the council's provision to the legal minimum to cope with the budget shortfall.

Mr Cole, who produced the National Procurement Strategy Diagnostic for the LGA last year, told LocalGov: 'It's going to be a very tall order because they are firefighting rather than doing it in a planned and co-ordinated way.

'I think they will find it very difficult. You can find yourself in a situation where a company will just walk away, then the council will be back to deciding what their priorities are and looking at other options.'

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