Finance, Procurement & IT Cabinet Member – Minutes – 7 December 2011

On 23 February 2011 council approved the revenue and capital budgets for the 2011/2012 financial year.  The report gave details of virements approved by the Director of Finance under delegated powers and those that required Cabinet Member approval. 

Resolved – (a) That the virements at paragraph 3.1 of the report, approved by the Director of Finance under delegated powers be noted, and (b) that the permanent virements outlined in paragraph 3.2 of the report be approved. 

17  (17)  BUSINESS RATE RELIEF 2011 – The Director of Finance submitted a report considering the level of Business Rate relief to be awarded to charitable, voluntary, not for profit and rural organisations in North Lincolnshire. 

The former Policy Committee agreed the legal position and administrative practices for dealing with rate relief on 22 January 1996. 

The Corporate Services Cabinet Member on 20 February 2005 (minute 128 refers) agreed to adopt a scoring system based on set criteria for the awarding of discretionary rate relief. On 7 February 2005 (minute 233 refers) he agreed to amend the criteria. On 21 December 2006 he also agreed to update the criteria and gave approval to the Director of Finance to authorise relief where the level of relief remained unchanged.

There was no discretion about granting mandatory relief. 

Resolved – That the level of rate relief be awarded to each applicant as set out in the schedule attached to the report be approved. 

18  (18)  TEMPORARY AGENCY WORKERS – The Director of Finance submitted a report to set out the findings from a corporate procurement exercise which had been undertaken to establish a managed service for temporary agency workers. 

It was explained that Contract Procedure Rules (CPRs) detailed that where projects exceeded £1m in value the outcomes from the procurement should be notified to the relevant cabinet member.  

Prior to 2004 services directly negotiated their own agency worker supply arrangements with local and regional agencies. This resulted in a dilution of procurement spend, fragmented arrangements with multiple suppliers and generally poor internal control across at that time one of the council’s largest procurement spend categories.  

On 1 October 2011 the Agency Workers Directives came into force.  The purpose of the directive was to provide temporary agency workers who had been placed for 12 weeks with equal treatment rights in terms of basic working and employment conditions. The implementation of the Directive had major implications for costs and use of agency workers. 

In early 2011 the Procurement Team explored various renewal options, which included running our own procurement, accessing alternative frameworks and re-running with East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC).  MSTAR was a recent national framework providing Managed Service Provision (MSP) for the supply of agency workers. It had been developed by Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO) on behalf of the Pro5 cohort of local government public buying organisations. 

As part of the implementation of the new arrangement, services were required to submit agency worker requests to HR for vetting and approval. Matrix had agreed not to progress any requests without prior approval from HR. This represented a significant control improvement over the previous arrangement where services raised orders directly with the approved suppliers. 

The evaluation process was undertaken by representatives from various client services and the award of MSP status to Matrix was supported by these and also by the Assistant Director Human Resources. 

Resolved – That the outcomes of the procurement exercise together with the internal control improvements be noted. 

19  (19)  POSTAL SERVICES – The Director of Finance submitted a report to outline the details of the recent review into the procurement arrangements for 2nd class post, following the de-regulation of the postal market. 

A value for money study had been carried out at postrooms within Pittwood House, Church Square House and Hewson House to analyse postal related expenditure.  It was explained that it had not been possible to accurately calculate the volume of 1st and 2nd class mail, however the Post Room officers had advised that on average 95% of all post sent out was 2nd Class, including bulk mailings. Validation of the estimate was being undertaken to provide a more accurate assessment. 

The cabinet member was advised that following the de-regulation of the postal market in 2006, there was now an opportunity for the council to make cashable savings through the market testing of its postal service arrangements.  

Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO) had established a national Postal Services Framework Agreement. The framework arrangement was tendered in accordance with EU procurement regulations resulting in a single supplier arrangement which was won by UK Mail Ltd.  Based on a full councilwide transfer to UK Mail, it was estimated that Cashable savings of c. £35,000 could be realistically achieved based on estimated usage for 2010/11 and the use of 2nd class postal rates. 

Resolved – That a UK Mail pilot scheme be progressed at one of the main council sites in the New Year, with a roll out programme to other sites once service levels have been validated and savings evidenced.

Where there is no report this is because it is exempt, as it contains information which is considered to be of a confidential nature, as detailed in the Local Government (Access to Information) Act.