GovMark looks at the market for agency staff in local government

GovMark are an interesting small firm that we came across recently via their MD, Ian Makgill, who is an occasional and perceptive commentator here. They’re an offshoot of Ticon, Makgill’s research firm, and GovMark is focused on researching public sector markets in order to provide information of value to suppliers of goods and services into the public sector. Surely there’s loads of that around already, you might say? And don’t firms do that themselves?

Well, some do, but I would support Makgill’s view that many suppliers - even large firms  - don’t really understand the public sector landscape into which they’re selling. How many public bodies have definite contracts in place in a certain spend category? Who are their suppliers? Which frameworks let by collaborative bodies are in use – and which councils / agencies / whatever actually use them? When will they be renewed?

You can see how such intelligence would be useful to firms. Actually, I would have thought it would be pretty useful to the folk in Cabinet Office and GPS as well! In my experience, it’s pretty hard at the centre of Government to get that sort of information. GovMark get their data through a pretty painstaking and painful process of digging through a whole host of publically available information – knowing where to look is key, but there’s still a lot of sheer legwork involved too.

They recently published this report on contracts for temporary staff in UK local Government. It contains some real gems  - including the headline which says,

 “There are 190 local authorities spending £325m p.a. without agency staff contracts”. Which means they’re probably in breach of EU regulations apart from anything else. And there’s more:

The highest spending authority spends over £38m per annum through several suppliers. However, the authority is yet to implement a corporate contract for agency staff. At the other end of the spectrum, there are 7 authorities that maintain they spend no money on temporary staff at all.

Yeah, right, I'm sure they don't....

The report also looks at supplier market share, and the various frameworks that are in place – 51 of them, which raises obvious questions about co-ordination and aggregation. The ESPO MStar framework currently takes the number one position.

GovMark points out that spend is falling, given the pressure on public budgets, which makes it even more important for suppliers to understand the landscape. The number of frameworks is likely to fall too -

A number of authorities have told GovMark that they intend to move over to the MStar framework once their existing contract has expired. In some cases, authorities are prematurely calling an end to their existing contracts in order to use the MStar agreement.

That’s likely to push more spend to larger suppliers – another piece of bad news for SMEs in that market perhaps?

Anyway, the report is a good piece of work, and if you’re a provider to the public sector, trying to understand the market better, GovMark is an interesting service to consider.

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