‘At least £15m’ to be saved by council contract system

BCC Cllr Peter Hardy
BCC Cllr Peter Hardy

A £101,000 investment in new software could save taxpayers between £15 million and £45m a year, Bucks County Council has said.

The software will provide a single council-wide repository for all the authority’s contracts, which have previously been stored in various formats and sites.

The council said managing contracts well could save between five and 15% of the money it pays out to external organisations, a bill which currently stands at £300m.

Savings are expected to come from reductions in the amount of time needed for officers to deal with contracts, but the council also believes there will be ‘cashable savings’ as a result of working more closely with suppliers.

Jonathon Noble, the council’s category manager for major projects, said: “Contracts ranged from physical documents to computerised files stored in other systems across the council. Just finding a variation on a contract could often take up a large amount of officer time.

“This is not just about the storage; it’s how the contracts are then managed, especially in terms of checking that contractors are performing to the right standards, are financially stable and have quality processes in place for issues such as safeguarding and business continuity.”

It is hoped the authority can make money from the software by selling it to other councils, with the help of software creator Arcus.

Mr Noble said: “If we sold the system to 11 local authorities the size of Bucks, we would recover all of the development costs.”

Councillor Peter Hardy, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “We are looking forward to seeing how this new system improves the way we work.

“It has the potential to make huge savings for us, as well as making us far more efficient as an organisation.

“I’m proud that we are blazing a trail by trying to be so commercially-aware on behalf of our taxpayers.

“These are difficult economic times for all councils and we simply have to take these kinds of measures to plug the financial shortfall, mainly caused by a reduction in Government grants.”