Procurement recruitment consultancies sourcing procurement staff for local authorities might want to ensure that the candidates they put forward are familiar with a new approach to the commissioning and financial support of public sector projects in the wake of the Carillion collapse – the Keep it Local initiative.

The new approach pulls together community organisations, councillors, policy experts and commissioners to help them relinquish the top-down, large-scale procurement processes of yore and capitalise instead on “the power of the community”.

The Carillion trauma has forced local authorities to seek alternatives to huge outsourcing contracts – and research by community network hub Locality has demonstrated that long-term pressure on public sector bodies can be substantially eased by commissioning local community associations to deliver services. It also has the added benefit of investing in the home-grown economy.

Locality CEO Tony Armstrong told Public Sector Executive magazine that, prior to the collapse of Carillion, the tendency of local authorities to pursue mega-contracts exclusively had squeezed many local community organisations out of the local service scene, even though the research is obvious: they deliver high-quality public services and, when permitted to do so, bring “huge benefits” to the local community.

He said: “When times are tough, councils need to ensure that precious public resources create maximum value for the local community, rather than seeping out to support other costs elsewhere. We’ve had enough of ‘scale fail’. We need to Keep it Local: for services that transform lives.”

The new initiative has been launched by Locality in partnership with Lloyds Bank Foundation, both of which will conduct a major engagement program between local authorities and relevant local community organisations across the country in the summer. The network will distill from this exercise a collection of principles for Keep it Local commissioning practice.

It will also begin a formal fact-finding consultation and embark on new research into the beneficial role and value brought to public sector service delivery by community organisations.

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