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Introduction

Procurement of goods, works and services is of critical importance both to local government, and to the communities we serve. We are committed to ensuring the best value in all of our transactions. We deliver services that are valued by our customers, and continually look to reduce the costs of these services by removing or reducing waste.

The council currently spends over £300 million each year on procuring and commissioning services, goods and works. It is our responsibility to use our money in the best possible way to achieve our goals.

In managing our daily business, council officers must always consider our responsibility in terms of legal, moral, social, economic and environmental impact. We must also consider how our actions will impact the world, whilst also considering the needs of the people of Somerset and its communities. Social value is important to our procurement process. We always consider if the products and services being purchased can bring extra benefits to our communities such as social and economic benefits. We also need to consider the environmental impact of the services that we buy, and will actively work to reduce our carbon footprint and any impact on our environment. We also consider reducing the carbon footprint of the suppliers that we use and their approach to recycling and waste disposal.

We are committed to using our procurement activity to support our wider regeneration and social goals. This includes sustainability, social inclusion and supporting the development and delivery of a diverse supply base.

Internally, our procurement activity will help with the improvement of service delivery, securing value for money for the council and the people it serves. This is by helping to transform services and processes to make them as efficient and effective as possible.

The Procurement team will also be crucial to the delivery of our commitment to maintain the Council’s financial stability. We will:

  • support the strategic and corporate priorities in the Somerset Council Plan 2023 – 2027 in a sustainable way.
  • align our operations closely with internal and external stakeholders to define needs and outcomes.
  • work more effectively with the external market to deliver improved outputs and maintain a diverse supply base including small local businesses.
  • improve efficiency via e-procurement and e-tendering by:
    • improving our digital offering, bringing efficiencies and making it easier for customers to contact us, both relating to procurements and all other services the Council offer.
    • committing to providing a more efficient and digital offering to all of the businesses and residents of Somerset.
  • develop local supply chains through improved understanding of our requirements;
  • increase internal awareness to achieve value for money through all third party spending.
  • work more effectively to ensure that social value is applied to all contracts that we award.
  • Consider the environment in which we live and encourage suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Ensure that supplier resilience is considered during and beyond the procurement process to ensure stability in all services that we have procured.

As part of the procurement plan we will remain fair and transparent, ensuring that all available information is published in an accessible way.

Invitations to tender

We follow the requirements of our Contract Standing Orders and Procedure Rules when appointing suppliers for goods, works and services.  These form part of the Somerset Council Constitution.

When we wish to award contracts over £100,000 for products or services, we issue invitations to tender through our e-tender portal. This limit is decided by council members, and is shown in the council’s contract standing orders.

An Invitation to Tender is a formal document inviting suppliers or contractors to submit a bid for a project or service. We issue a suite of documents to make up the invitation to tender, and these need to be read and completed by bidders who wish to be considered.  The suite of documents used will comply with the requirements of the Public Procurement Rules 2015, and will supply all relevant information to potential bidders.

The e-tendering portal that we use to advertise any contract opportunities to do business with the council is the  Supplying the South West website. Businesses can register on this portal for free, and will receive notification of any relevant opportunities when they occur. Invitations to tender are issued via this portal to all bidders who express an interest in the opportunity.

We may use this portal for lower value contracts where this is appropriate, using the council’s Quick Quote process. In this instance, a full suite of invitation to tender documents will not be issued, to make the process shorter and less complex. In line with contract procedure rules, this will only occur for procurements of goods and services below £100k and contracts for work up to £250k. The Quick Quote process can be used to randomly select from suppliers who are registered on the portal or selected suppliers may be chosen to issue the invitation to tender to. This means it is vital that suppliers register so they do not miss opportunities to work with us.

Transparency code

The Government wants to place more power into citizens hands, to increase democratic accountability and make it easier for local people to contribute to the local decision making process, and to help shape public services. Transparency is the foundation of local accountability and the key that gives people the tools and information they need to enable them to play a bigger role in society. The availability of data can also open up new markets for local businesses, the voluntary sector and community sectors, and social enterprises to run services or manage public services.

The Transparency Code 2015 was issued by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to issue a code of recommended practice as to the publication of information by local government about the discharge of their functions and other matters.

We are required by the Local Government Transparency Code 2015 to publish details of:

  • every invitation to tender for contracts to provide goods or services. For each invitation, the following details must be published:
    • reference number
    • title
    • description of the goods or services sought
    • start, end and review dates
    • local authority department responsible
  • any contract, commissioned activity, purchase order, framework agreement and any other legally enforceable agreement with a value that exceeds £5,000. For each contract, the following details must be published:
    • reference number
    • title of agreement
    • local authority department responsible
    • description of the goods and/or services being provided
    • supplier name and details
    • sum to be paid over the length of the contract or the estimated annual spending or budget for the contract
    • Value Added Tax that cannot be recovered
    • start, end and review dates
    • whether the contract was the result of an invitation to quote or a published invitation to tender
    • whether the supplier is a small or medium-sized enterprise and/or a voluntary or community sector organisation, and where it is, provide the relevant registration number

We list all opportunities that have been awarded by the council since 2013, in the Contract Register on  the e-tender portal Supplying the South West which can be found by searching in the Contract Register section.

The contract register contains information on all current contracts and also legacy contracts, so that suppliers and members of the public can see where contracts have been awarded and where we spend the money we receive.

Contracts finder

We may also advertise contract opportunities for contracts above £50,000 on Contracts Finder. Contract Finder is a website that lets you search for opportunities with the government and its agencies, including local authorities such as Somerset Council.

When Somerset Council awards contracts, and those contracts are worth £30,000 or more, an award notice is also published on Contracts Finder, so you can see who has been awarded the contract.

Non-recoverable VAT

The council’s financial systems are not set up to provide reporting on non-recoverable VAT at a transactional level. If you have any questions related to this please contact the Chief Accountant.

Last reviewed: November 27, 2023 by Sophie

Next review due: May 27, 2024

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