HM Treasury’s public spending statistics show spending on public sector procurement was £379 billion in 2021/22 across the UK. This figure includes the procurement of goods and services by one public sector body from another.
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) plays an important role helping central government and other organisations across the public and third sectors to purchase goods and services, for example, from locum doctors and laptops to police cars and electricity.
We last looked at CCS in 2017 when we examined its progress and the value that it had provided since it was established in 2014. In recent years, the value of procurement that flows through CCS’s commercial agreements has grown significantly, generating an increase in income from £92 million in 2018/19 to £178 million in 2022/23, and the annual dividend paid by CCS to the Cabinet Office increased six-fold in the same period.
CCS reports in its 2022/23 Annual Report & Accounts that it had achieved over £3 billion of commercial benefits for its customers for the first time and increased its total spend through commercial agreements by over £30 billion. This is compared to five years ago when CCS had £15.7 billion of spend through agreements and £945 million of commercial benefits. Though CCS’s performance has improved significantly over the last few years, its market share remains in the region of 20%.
Our report will seek to understand the central purchasing landscape. In particular, we will look at:
- the opportunities and challenges for CCS in delivering efficiency savings for public sector procurement
- whether the right incentives exist for CCS, departments and the wider public sector to promote greater efficiency
- whether the right data is collected and analysed to identify and improve efficiency in central purchasing.
Director: Matthew Rees
Audit Manager: Lilian Ndianefo