The Home Office has today (24 August 2016) published the first-ever national overview of what each fire and rescue authority in England pays for 25 common items of uniform and equipment.
Home Office publishes fire procurement information for the first time
The move is the first step in the government’s programme of reform for the sector, announced in May 2016, focusing on diversity, efficiency and transparency. The data will enable authorities, and the public, to compare how much they spend on these essential items to ensure they are getting the best value for money.
All 45 authorities in England provided data on their recent procurement, and the items published today include workwear, vehicles and firefighters’ personal protective equipment, as well as frontline equipment such as breathing apparatus and automated external defibrillators.
The data shows authorities are paying similar prices for some standard items, and that some are collaborating to strike better deals with suppliers.
However, authorities can do more collaboratively to drive down the amount they pay on some of the essential goods they need to keep the public safe.
Brandon Lewis, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service said:
It makes no sense for fire and rescue authorities to buy separately when there are both financial and operational benefits to buying together.
While some fire and rescue authorities are already collaborating on procurement and reaping the benefits, there is still a lot more to be done.
This is why I have published key fire procurement data on the prices that authorities currently pay for the most common items of uniforms and equipment for the first time. By doing so, I hope to increase transparency and encourage the sector to take on the challenge of reforming its own commercial landscape.
The government is determined to help authorities adopt a collaborative approach to procurement, not only because of the potential savings they can achieve through buying collectively, but also because of the operational benefits of standardising the items they purchase.
The benefits of authorities working together are already being seen around the country. Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority, Kent Fire and Rescue Authority, and Essex Fire and Rescue Authority were awarded £370,000 from the Fire Transformation Fund in May 2015 for a joint project to establish a national procurement collaboration hub for the sector, supported by the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA).
CFOA is also forming a new Strategic Commercial Committee, led by Ann Millington, Kent Fire and Rescue Authority’s chief executive, with the objective of transforming the fire commercial landscape as a whole.