Councils save £71m through procurement changes

SCOTLAND’S councils could do “a lot more“ to get better value for the £5.4 billion of taxpayers’ cash spent annually on goods and services procurement, spending watchdog the Accounts Commission has said.

City Chambers, home of Edinburgh Council. Picture: TSPL

The body said Scotland’s 32 councils spent a total of £1,010 for every person each year, covering costs including construction materials, IT and social care.

A report said councils had saved £71 million since the Scottish Government launched initiatives to pool buying power. But it said “progress has been slow in some councils”.

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The commission said town halls should look at switching from paper to electronic payment systems, which it claimed could claw back £9m a year for the public purse.

Accounts Commission chairman Douglas Sinclair said: “Some councils have done well by looking at all the options … but there is scope to do a lot more and the pace of improvement needs to increase.”

David O’Neill, president of local councils body Cosla, welcomed the findings of the commission, but insisted that authorities had put cost-saving schemes in place.

He added: “It is also worth noting that councils use procurement spending to support local economic development.”