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Written Statement - Launch of the National Procurement Service for Wales

Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance & Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Local Government and Government Business

We are today officially launching the National Procurement Service (NPS) – a new service that will manage pan-Wales procurement contracts and frameworks for the public sector in Wales.

It is a major public service innovation that will offer greater efficiencies and savings to its members by securing national agreements on a range of goods and services that are common to most, if not all of the public sector.

The remit of the NPS is to establish more efficient ways of working, which in essence means doing things differently.  This will mean a range of things in procurement including a greater focus on community benefits and employing a local workforce.   The development of consortia or collaborative arrangements between businesses in Wales which in turn can help SMEs grow, will also address costly services and wastage, and better and faster delivery in the supply chain for the benefit of sellers, buyers and consumers alike.

We will be officially launching the NPS at a company in the Rhondda that demonstrates collaborative working in action.  Vision Products in Pontyclun stores, refurbishes and distributes equipment for disabled people, and has a separate side to the business that installs high-specification UPVC windows and doors.  Under an agreement between the NHS, Value Wales and a number of local authorities, the company provides a service that offers a vast improvement on the previous arrangement.  It delivers the right products, first time to disabled people thanks to its adapted apartment with equipment models and the items are dispatched quickly.  The processes are more sustainable thanks to its recycling department, invoices are paid faster and savings in the region of 27% per year have been made for the last two years.  The company is an exemplar in its training and development of its staff.  Two thirds of the 100 staff at the factory and the stores in Pontyclun are disabled, and the company has been commended for its good practice in employee mentoring and training.

The NPS will be in a position to look at how Wales’ money is spent, and on a more strategic level, why we are spending that money and how we can do things differently if there is a better way.

The Welsh Government was awarded the responsibility of hosting the service under fair and open competition, and the NPS is accountable to a NPS Board comprised of its stakeholders.  Some 76 member organisations have signed up to use its services, including all Local Authorities, NHS Wales, all Higher and Further Education institutions in Wales, all Police and Fire Services, nine Welsh Government Sponsored Bodies, the Welsh Government itself and the National Assembly for Wales.

The Public Services Leadership Group (PSLG), chaired by the Minister for Local Government and Government Business, has championed collaborative procurement in Wales as part of its work to support efficient and effective public services. Its procurement work-stream developed a compelling business case for the creation of a vehicle to buy common and repetitive spend ‘once for Wales’.

John McClelland’s Review last year entitled “Maximising the Impact of Welsh Procurement Policy” listed many useful recommendations, including support for a National Procurement Service.  Mr McClelland is currently carrying out a further review of the organisational arrangements of procurement services in the Welsh Government and further afield, and will be reporting his findings to Ministers.

We must be clear on the differentiation between the Value Wales and the NPS.  Value Wales is responsible for driving forward the procurement policy agenda, fitness checks for the Welsh public sector, ensuring the EU requirements are being adopted, and it will continue to manage the Sell2Wales website, upon which public sector contracts are advertised.  The NPS is responsible for the delivery of procurement contracts and frameworks to its members and will adopt a category management approach to the areas that it covers.  The NPS has its own website which launches today – www.npswales.gov.uk / www.gcccymru.gov.uk – and includes links to other relevant websites including Sell2Wales.

We know that the public expenditure envelope for Wales in the foreseeable future is very challenging.  Success will depend therefore on the Welsh public sector’s capacity to do things differently.  Changes like the NPS are essential to make the most of the Welsh pound and direct resources to the frontline.

This is a significant development that delivers against our Programme for Government commitment to support the transformation of public services by maximising efficiencies through joint procurement systems.  It demonstrates that the public sector in Wales can work collaboratively across organizational boundaries for the greater good.