Oxford City Council
In the current economic climate, the pressure is increasing to cut costs without putting frontline services at risk. By working with PfH, Oxford City Council has been able to minimise the time and resources that are required to achieve the best value procurement of materials, thereby ensuring that tenants get a continuing high level of service in spite of the current financial constraints.
In January 2012 PfH caught up with David Walker, Stores Manager at Oxford City Council to discuss their procurement methods.
Oxford City Council controls a social housing stock of 8,000 properties which are maintained and improved with its own in-house labour force of 150 tradespersons. The productivity of these people has been improved over the years by computerised work scheduling and recording, and providing a large fleet of Council vehicles, many with stocks of materials and tools. The four departments that control the work, Responsive Repairs, Voids, Contracts and Gas, are supplied with all the materials they require via a centralised in-house Stores operation. This plays a key role in maintaining the efficiency of the tradespersons and the high and improving standards of the housing stock.
The Stores operation consists of a store which holds over 2500 lines of the most commonly used items and the capability of obtaining all non-stocked items as required.
Whilst the Stores always strived for best value in whatever was purchased, the increase in the value of the procured materials meant that in order to comply with EU Procurement Rules and Regulations, the supply of materials had to be through appropriate Contracts. Some eight years ago, Oxford City Council carried out an OJEU tender process and again three years later. This proved to be an expensive and time consuming process and so when they had to award the third round of supply contracts, they decided to look at more effective ways to achieve the same or better results.
Procurement techniques have improved over the last decade and so have the organisations that can focus on this area and apply their expertise to the benefit of their clients. Oxford City Council looked at various procurement organisations and found PfH to be the most appropriate one for their particular requirements.
Unsure of how using PfH would actually work, Oxford City Council started with a small contract for the supply of aids and adaptations materials for the disabled, which showed savings of at least 30%. Confident that PfH methodology worked, and that PfH customer’s potential buying power was appreciated by the main suppliers/manufactured, they approached PfH for one of their larger supply contracts of plumbing, heating and building materials.
Once Oxford City Council had decided the brief and materials list, PfH carried out a mini competition with their approved suppliers, subsequently assisted with the scoring of submissions and presentations, and completed the award of the appropriate contract. The end result was achieved in a much shorter time frame, at minimal cost and in a very professional way.
David Walker comments ‘The benefits of working with PfH are that they are dealing with and understanding the legislation all the time, they have potentially over 70% of the UK’s social housing stock as a customer base when they go to suppliers, and they have the power to deal with any problems that may arise.’