Agenda item

Responsible Procurement Policy


Councillor Andy Wilson, Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, and Rachel Willsher, Head of Procurement, Finance and Investment, presented the Responsible Procurement Policy to Cabinet. It was noted that:


·         The council spent £588 million in 2017/18 through procurement activity. In adopting the Responsible Procurement Policy, Council Officers would be required to consider the economic, environmental and social aspects of the purchases they made.

·         The Responsible Procurement Policy gave a clear message to suppliers, and staff, on Lambeth Council’s priorities when undertaking procurement activities. These priorities were:

o   Good quality jobs with fair pay and decent working conditions.

o   Increase the number of quality apprenticeships accessed by Lambeth residents, particularly those from Lambeth priority groups.

o   Increase the quality and range of targeted employment opportunities for residents from Lambeth priority groups.

o   Reduce emissions: focus on cutting our carbon footprint and improving air quality.

o   Reduce consumption of raw material, reuse materials and recycle – focus to reduce use of single use plastics.

o   Maximise positive health and wellbeing – focus on supporting a healthy workforce and on provision of healthier, affordable and more sustainable food and drinks offer.

·         The principles behind the Responsible Procurement Policy were based on the principles of the manifesto of the current administration, and was an example of how the manifesto was being delivered.

·         The policy focused on a concise set of outcomes and indicators, which would enable officers and the market to focus their procurement activity on the priorities of the Council.


Councillor Scott Ainslie, Councillor Pete Elliott and Councillor Tim Briggs made representations on this item to Cabinet which focused on the following key points:


·         In January 2019, Council had resolved to become carbon neutral by 2030 but this target was not reflected in the policy. There were very few mentions of the ongoing climate emergency in the policy.


·         The Council should commit to stop using any single use plastics, not reduce the use of single use plastics.


·         It was unclear how this policy related to the estate regeneration programme – it was more environmentally friendly to renovate estates that to rebuild them.


·         Although the aims of the policy were commendable, it was unclear how the outcomes as a result of the policy would be monitored. In particular, how would the Council deal with breaches of the policy once the decision had been taken to procure from a supplier.

·         Doubts were raised whether the Council could achieve value for money when there was so much weight placed on social and environmental benefits of procurement.


In response to questions from Cabinet, Officers confirmed that:


·         It was impossible to completely eliminate single use plastics, as they were essential for some services. For example medical consumables needed to be made from single use plastics in order to maintain hygiene.

·         Decisions on estate regeneration programmes were not relevant to this policy and would be taken on a case by case basis. However if a decision was taken to go ahead with regeneration or renovation of an estate then the Council would have to procure goods, services and works adhering to the framework set by the Responsible Procurement Policy. This would equally apply to Homes for Lambeth, the Council owned company that was responsible for estate regeneration projects.

·         Simplifying the priorities of the policy, and the key measures of performance linked to these priorities, would simplify contract management once procurement had taken place.

·         Any breaches of the policy by suppliers could be dealt with through breach of contract proceedings.

·         Value for money would be achieved through using competition and commercial awareness to attain the best price possible. The Responsible Procurement Policy enabled the council to improve social value alongside best value.

Cabinet debated the report and concluded that the Responsible Procurement Policy was a positive way of ensuring the administration’s priorities were reflected in the procurement practices of the Council. Cabinet welcomed the contributions from the Green Group regarding Climate Change, and recognised Council’s resolution on 23 January 2019. But ensuring that the commitments of Council’s resolution in January required a greater, more ambitious, over-arching policy rather than inserting references to climate change into policies as they were being prepared. It was noted by Cabinet that the Responsible Procurement Policy had included the need to reduce emissions as one of the policy’s key objectives, and there were three performance measures linked to this objective.




1.         The Responsible Procurement Policy which covers all procurement and commercial activity including services, goods, works and concessions is approved and adopted.

2.         Delegated authority is granted to the Cabinet Member for Finance to make any minor revisions to the Responsible Procurement Policy to reflect updates in the Borough Plan.


Supporting documents: