STAR Procurement

Stellar Evolution – The Journey of STAR Procurement 

Legacy and Progression

As with the I-Network Awards, STAR will also be celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2024, and our first award submission was in 2014 for the ‘Establishment of a Shared Procurement Service for Trafford, Rochdale and Stockport Councils’. STAR has very much been through the change cycle – adapting, progressing and innovating as we went. STAR has a continuous improvement ethos and drives procurement excellence, collaboration and social value at a local, regional, national and international level.

In 2014 we formed which in itself was a monumental achievement in bringing together three Authorities from three different political parties to form the first procurement shared service. As with any large scale change, a storming phase followed whilst we tried to recruit and retain a workforce whilst also implement the changes required to be a successful and genuine shared service including the implementation of a category management approach across all Partners. The norming phase followed where we had aligned Contract Procedure Rules, Procurement Strategy and Contract Register, and had a stable and productive workforce. This set the firm foundations to develop into the performing stage and the success of STAR began to be seen with savings secured, social value being implemented and a grow your own policy to recruit and retain the best procurement professionals. This success was recognised and in 2018 Tameside joined STAR as our fourth Partner, and STAR’s evolution really began to take shape and gather momentum.

In 2019, STAR began to have a planned and commercial approach to selling their procurement services to public sector outside of our existing four Partners. We recognised the need for the public sector to support the public sector, and the benefits that collaboration could bring. STAR now delivers commissions across the country from Basildon to Barrow, Anglesey and Birmingham Councils, as well as supporting our GM colleagues in Bury, Manchester and Salford. Annually we secure significant income for STAR to help ensure the future financial sustainability of the shared service.

Social Value has long been the focus for STAR who were one of the early adopters. Our approach has evolved and developed from simply including a weighting to now being fully embedded in the procurement process and across our Partner decision making. Social Value is considered through the procurement lifecycle and mechanisms are in pace to ensure the right social value is offered, and that it is then managed and monitored to deliver results. A Community Impact Fund has also been established to deliver tangible outcomes for residents.

Data is another aspect that has evolved and developed. Procurement has a wealth of data available and through our cyclical reporting we ensure that data drives decisions, results and outcomes. We have learnt that as procurement professionals we are not data experts, and have established a SLA with Stockport Council data team to work in collaboration to deliver this. Our most recent success is the further growth of STA to include Knowsley and St Helens Councils. This represents a 50% growth in STAR and therefore extensive due diligence was undertaken particular on financial, legal and HR to provide assurance to all parties. Following lessons learnt from on-boarding Tameside in 2018, the mobilisation and on-boarding has been seamless, with staff now TUPE transferred over and processes and procedures being aligned. Growth required complex governance procedures and processes to be understood and followed. But this growth into the Liverpool City Region demonstrates how STAR has adapted to opportunities and demonstrates that pan-regional collaboration can be done successfully. We are the first pan-regional procurement shared service in the country.

We are very proud of our team and how they have adapted and come with us on our journey. They have embraced the changes, being enthusiastic and championed star internally and externally. At a time when procurement recruitment and retention is exceptionally difficult, our grow your own policy and approach has been invaluable to recruiting and retaining an excellent and motivated workforce and strong team. We invest in procurement apprenticeships, training, coaching, and provide opportunities for or team to learn, widen their experience and empower them to deliver strategic projects and programmes of activity.

The legacy we have in place now is a resilient, sustainable, and high performing procurement shared service that is delivering to its founder Partners, new Partners and the wider public sector. The hard work has set very strong foundations to continue to drive forward, and most importantly using procurement to deliver the best possible outcomes for our residents and communities.


Level of Impact

There have been a number of reported local government shared service failures over the time since STAR was established, but not only have STAR survived, it has thrived and is now a national exemplar of shared services, procurement and social value. During a difficult time for local government, STAR has been able to support not only the STAR Partners, but the wider public sector to address the challenges as they have arrived and I-Network has been a great vehicle for us to do this in a collaborative and supportive way.

Evidence of our impact include:

  • Increased from 3 to 6 Partners in the last five years
  • Nearly £50m of ratified savings delivered to date
  • Secured 38.5% Social Value return on contract value
  • Approximately 50% local spend – an increase form 28.7% in 2017/18
  • Nearly 80% Greater Manchester spend – an increase from 48.7% in 2017/18
  • No successful legal challenges and a robust SLA in place with Trafford Council to provide procurement legal support
  • Balanced budget and rebates provided to Partners
  • Currently have 127 live collaborative contracts
  • One of the first to achieve CIPS Corporate Ethics Mark in 2019 and continue to achieve this annually
  • Use of the National TOMs and bespoked to each STAR Partner to ensure delivering outcomes aligned to their Corporate Plans
  • Delivered a 10 Point Plan in response to COVID-19 crisis
  • Carbon Literacy Accreditation attained within our STAR workforce
  • STAR is an ‘Innovator’ in Social Value Maturity based on the Social Value Maturity Index
  • Circa £1.5m of Social Value delivered through the STAR Team in 2022/23
  • STAR Director is the Chair of the National Social Value Taskforce and STAR contribute to Social Value working groups nationally
  • Robust Contracts Register and Workplans in place
  • 93% compliance with a focus to increase this further
  • Secured commissions from organisations across the UK and the Region


To ensure that we can continue to deliver these outcomes, we have worked hard to ensure firm foundations are in place including:

  • Robust Governance with Joint Committee and STAR Board, underpinned by an Inter-Authority Agreement
  • Business Plan
  • Delivery Plan
  • Category Strategies
  • Core Offer to define and promote our service offer
  • Quality Management System to ensure align workflows, templates and procedures
  • Cyclical Reporting
  • Grow Your Own Policy and Training Plan
  • Responsible Procurement Strategy
  • Market Engagement Protocol
  • A collaborative STAR Audit Group to share internal audits and reviews
  • STAR Risk Register
  • Annual Audit Plan and Audit Tracker
  • Aligned CPR’s and Procurement Handbook

Our impact can also be measured in terms of the reach we have had in commissions delivered. STAR have secured and delivered commissions to a range of partners with an ethos of the public sector supporting the public sector. Not only does STAR support the public sector, but through these commissions we also bring lessons learnt back to STAR as part of our continuous improvement ethos and our continued evolution and development of STAR. Our commissions have included clients such as Barrow, Basildon, Anglesey, Birmingham, Runnymede, as well as regionally Manchester, Bury, Salford. Over time, we have become more commercially focussed for this work and have a robust charging policy in place to ensure full cost recovery, a proactive approach to securing commissions and diversified our offer.

The last ten years haven’t all been plain sailing but given the scale, complexity and innovation of our evolution, the outcomes achieved have far exceeded our vision and expectations in 2014. STAR has been able to adapt to the challenges presented and evolved to meet the increasing demands placed on the public sector. If this is what has been achieved in the last ten years, then we are confident that we can deliver even more for our residents and communities over the next ten years.


Additional Evidence or Information

Don’t just take our word for it, here is what our staff, stakeholders, Director and Councillors think of STAR…

As a new member of the team, Rob TUPE transferred from St Helens to STAR in 2023, “When I was identified as transferring to STAR I was worried I would lose my friends who were going into other areas after many years of working together and did not know where or if I would fit. Since joining STAR all my worries were unfounded, in fact STAR Staff where so supportive of me and my situation, it felt like coming home, but to a better home than I ever knew.”

Cllr Liz Patel, Trafford Council’s Executive Member Economy and Regeneration and STAR Joint Committee representative, “Our STAR team have already achieved some strong results and we are excited for the future with our two new partners on board. Procurement is all about finding the best ways to boost local economies and asking our suppliers to be socially responsible when they do business with the public sector.”

Lorraine Cox, Director of STAR, “When I joined STAR it was a functioning, albeit fragile, procurement shared service for three Partners, with a strong focus on operational delivery. As Director I have led and progressed STAR to be a strategic procurement service with a focus on outcomes for our communities and residents. We have also become much more commercially-focussed, not just in our procurement approach but in the income we generate and our understanding of markets and opportunities. Social Value is a passion of mine and it is embedded in all that we do and delivery for our Partners. It was an exciting time when I joined STAR and it continues to be so as we continue to be at the forefront of innovation, change and collaboration.”

Paul James, Chief Digital Officer user of the STAR Procurement service, “I have been lucky enough to work with STAR both in my time at Stockport and now at Trafford Council. STAR have provided invaluable support for us as we have embarked on our own change programmes, including Digital by Design at Stockport, and supporting us now as we deliver our digital programme across Trafford. STAR not only support us in procurement, but they are also at the front of the queue to embrace new technology and new ways of working. It is a pleasure working with STAR – they are an enabler and provide innovations solutions to help us deliver efficiencies, savings and compliance.”