Scrutiny review of doing business with the Council

The Audit and Best Value Scrutiny Committee reviewed whether East Sussex County Council offers a level playing field to small and medium sized-enterprises (SMEs) that are interested – or have succeeded – in chasing Council contracts.

Aim of the review

Local businesses have been hit hard by the economic downturn. The review board wanted to find out if small and medium-sized firms found it easier to win contracts from the Council, or if the Council should do more to make the process easier.

Every year the Council spends about £350m on goods, works and services. A large amount of this is carried out under its own contracts or jointly with other local authorities and government bodies.

Over the last few years the Council has worked with business partners to introduce a range of initiatives to make it easier to do business with us. These include:

  • working better with other local authorities to minimise bureaucracy
  • better use of the Internet to advertise work to smaller companies
  • splitting contracts into smaller lots to allow SMEs to compete more easily, and
  • improved pages on our website and a dedicated business link on the homepage.

The review board asked small and medium-sized firms in East Sussex to take part in a consultation to find out what it’s like doing business with the Council.

Recommendations

The recommendations included:

  • Contracting departments should publish clear information about their select list and how their framework system operates
  • Information on the Council website that is about procurement should include contact details for appropriate Council officers. This will allow SMEs to make contact with the Council easily.

Reporting

The review board produced a final report that you can download below. The report was considered at:

Progress updates

The board presented progess updates to the Audit and Best Value Scrutiny Committee:

Download

Scrutiny review of doing business with the County Council (22 pages)