The need to talk about public spending


Over the last decade or so of public sector austerity, the concept of ‘public spending’ has picked up some quite negative connotations. In particular, it has often been misconstrued as something that is inherently bad, and that must be cut or ‘brought back under control’ for the good of the society.

At iNetwork, we have always championed the voices of colleagues who instead believe that better public spending practices can play a central role in building vibrant and sustainable communities for the future. At this year’s conference, #iNetwork 2020, we wanted to continue to do this, and to play our part in reframing socially targeted public spending as a powerful driver of progressive change. 

In recent years, we have already seen some inspiring locally-led work on this agenda such as the Preston Model of community wealth building. Central Government too, is also slowly beginning to push this agenda and we have seen in recent months the Cabinet Office publishing new guidance on taking account of social value in government contracts.

We know that there is much more to be done though. At #iNetwork2020, we wanted to take the opportunity to put the spotlight on just some of the great progress in this area across the partnership, particularly in the context of our social and economic recovery from Covid-19.


What we discussed


STAR Procurement

Michael Crook and Michael Sellors from STAR spoke passionately about how better local spending practices can help us to build more resilient communities and economies, and how STAR’s structure as a shared procurement service across the Greater Manchester region has been a key enabler of this.

They also gave an overview of STAR’s 10 point plan for supporting Covid-19 recovery and embedding social value. STAR’s work on social value in procurement was recently awarded a ‘highly commended for leadership in social value’ at the National Social Value Conference.


In this session, YPO’s Simon Hill hosted a conversation with senior procurement officers in the local public sector Kevin Draisey, North Yorkshire County Council and Simon, Field Wakefield Council. The focus of the discussion was around the power of collaboration in procurement and lessons learned from responding to Covid-19.

Colleagues reflected on how Covid-19 impacted on collaboration both internally and with external organisations, key lessons learnt so far, and how procurement can play a central part in planning for COVID recovery.

Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership

Neil Hind from Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership gave an update on some key examples of how changes to procurement and commissioning have been successfully addressing environmental sustainability in the NHS. This session outlined the ambitions of the NHS to become Net Zero for Carbon and introduced an additional focus on the role of procurement in achieving broader social value outcomes.

Neil gave an overview of current work being undertaken within Greater Manchester across a range of different areas. These included mileage and emissions reduction, sustainable foods, switching to recyclable materials, and the electrification of NHS fleets. Neil also laid out the plans and ambitions for NHS sustainability over the next few years.


Want to get involved?


iNetwork’s Connected Procurement & Commissioning programme is an active network that supports local public sector procurement & commissioning to collaborate and innovate. Whether you have been working on an innovative project in this area, or would like to connect with colleagues who share a passion for improving outcomes through procurement, we’d love to hear from you! Visit the CPC programme page  to find out more about how you can get involved.