About FCTP

Procurement Home

Background

The Fire and Rescue Service spends circa £500m a year on goods and services via third party suppliers. This is a significant figure and in the current fiscal climate it is essential that these monies are spent wisely to protect the front line and provide a source of funding for transformation. Stakeholders, including UK taxpayers, need to be confident that the fire and rescue service is delivering Value for Money (VFM).

Better and more collaborative procurement was a theme that featured in the package for fire reform including a “quick win”: publishing procurement data on 25 comparable items. Minister Penning (Minister at that time) announced this at the LGA Conference in March 2016, framing it as increasing transparency and collaboration on procurement. This was also included in the then Home Secretary’s reform speech and the need for the sector to lead their improved commercial strategy.

In response to the Home Secretary's challenge, NFCC is implementing a package of reforms in the commercial operation of the sector under the umbrella of the ‘Fire Commercial Transformation Programme’. The lessons from police commercial change (Collaborative Law Enforcement Programme – CLEP) are being applied where appropriate as is the potential for collaboration with policing and others where there are areas of common spend.

Minister's ‘Reform’ Speech

On the 7th February 2017 Brandon Lewis, the then Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, set out his vision for the fire sector in 2017 at an event hosted by Reform.  A full transcript of the speech can be found on the following link - https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/fire-ministers-speech-to-reform.

In his speech he talks about the basket of goods exercise that was conducted last year (details of which can be found on the following link - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-and-rescue-authority-procurement-data) and the wide variation of prices paid for similar equipment.  The Minister also announced details of two further ‘basket of goods’ exercises that are planned in 2017 and the Minister is expecting the gap between what FRSs are paying for these items to narrow – preferably considerably.  The Minister went on to say;

“I’m pleased from what I have seen over the past few months that the sector has started to respond to these findings and to make changes to procurement practices as a result - through the Chief Fire Officers’ Association’s new commercial strategy.

But I want every service to be involved in this. It is in everybody’s interest for the sector to be getting the best deal they can. I want every service to be taking a long hard look at their procurement practices and questioning whether they could be much more strategic. And I challenge the sector to give me a quantifiable ambition as to what savings are possible.

I want to see services working together and getting a better deal from suppliers in order to save themselves time and the taxpayer money. It makes no sense at all for fire and rescue authorities to be buying separately when there are so many benefits to be gained from buying together”.

Mission Statement

To pro-actively develop/support and champion a National Fire and Rescue Commercial Strategy that meets the needs of all stakeholders within the FRS community and encourage and support national and regional sector and cross sector collaboration wherever possible and ensure that VFM is delivered to the Public at both local and national level.

Principles

Fire Commercial Transformation Programme 3 key principles;

  • Standardised requirements developing agreed standard specifications that are operationally driven rather than procurement-led.
  • Aggregated volumes FRS that bring larger volumes to market typically get better deals. Where possible, i.e. non-fire specific goods and services, consider the wider purchasing power of other public sector organisations.
  • Collaboratively managed contracts and suppliers joined-up strategic engagement, supplier performance and contract management.

In January 2016 the Prime Minister confirmed that ministerial responsibility for fire and rescue policy would transfer to the Home Office from the Department for Communities and Local Government.  CFOA is working closely with colleagues in the Home Office to establish a new national structure to enable collaborative procurement.  Rapid change, a focus on delivery of savings and efficiencies within the sector, and collaboration with other emergency services feature strongly.

The sector has been able to respond to the change proactively because the resources and foundations for collaborative and more commercially orientated procurement had already started to be developed.