During a time of austerity, Gateshead-based Bloom Procurement Services has so far assisted educational bodies to save more than £870,000 for projects to a value in excess of £6 million – equivalent to protecting the annual salaries of up to 35 vital frontline jobs – with a managed procurement solution for schools and academies.
A collaboration between Bloom, NEPO (the North East Procurement Organisation) and the Department for Education (DfE), the managed procurement solution provides a fast, compliant and cost-effective way for schools, academies and colleges to buy and manage professional services.
Schools and indeed all public sector organisations, must comply with a raft of national and European Union procurement regulations. At the same time, they are striving to adopt procurement best practices to maximise process efficiencies and improve outcomes, while driving down much needed costs.
Bloom is the exclusive operator of the NEPRO³ procurement solution on behalf of NEPO. NEPRO³ is a compliant framework, which helps the UK public sector, including all schools, academies and colleges to buy and manage professional services from a choice of local, regional and national suppliers, whilst achieving better outcomes at the lowest possible cost. It also allows buyers to move quickly knowing that terms are pre-agreed. Suppliers then get paid when work is completed to satisfaction.
NEPRO³ is the only DfE-approved professional services procurement framework for schools and academies.
With 20 categories of spend available, the NEPRO³ solution assists education establishments to focus on business services including transformation, finance, staff absence protection, ICT and HR. It also provides curriculum and special education needs and disabilities advisors, in addition to specialists to help with areas such as business strategy and planning, energy efficiency, construction, design and engineering, environmental health, facilities management, finance, marketing and communication, audit and accounting, health and wellbeing and communication and technology. On average, public sector buyers using the solution save between 11% and 19% against budget.
Julie Collins, DfE programme lead, Bloom Procurement Services, said: “The government has recently announced that the yearly school budget will be boosted by £7.1 billion by 2022-23. This is great news for the education sector. However, there is still a need to help schools reduce the £10bn they spend on non-staffing costs and ensure budgets are spent as effectively as possible. The DfE provides a range of support and guidance to help schools with financial planning and resource management. At Bloom we are using our expertise as procurement and education sector specialists, to provide a fully managed and compliant solution that helps schools to release significant cashable savings to support real educational outcomes.
“Bloom’s education programme is still in its infancy. However, we have already worked with 179 suppliers, achieving savings of more than £870,000 for projects to the value of more than £6m. If you relate this to frontline members of staff this, potentially, can be used to cover the annual salary of thirty-five professionals working in education. Going forward, we want to ensure every school is aware of NEPRO³ and the tremendous savings and benefits it allows, both in terms of time and money, as the only DfE-approved professional services procurement framework for schools, academies and colleges.”
The Bloom procurement model is opening up a vast range of business opportunities that might not otherwise have been so easily accessible to the SME sector. These opportunities include small to multi-million pound contracts with, for example, local authorities, hospitals, emergency services and education bodies. The company is regularly involved in roadshows across the UK, at which it outlines to local companies how they can become one of over 6,500 registered suppliers and the ease of access this allows to contracts being placed by over 360 public sector bodies. To date, Bloom has successfully completed over 4,500 projects.
Adam Jacobs, founder and executive chairman, at Bloom Procurement Services, said: “The Bloom marketplace is here to support schools, academies and colleges across the UK. For school buyers, purchasing services through Bloom is far quicker, easier and cost-effective than sourcing their own proposals or quotes. With Bloom, buyers can choose from thousands of suppliers via our pre-accredited supply chain and they can be assured that all suppliers have been quality checked and comply with buying procedures and procurement law. This frees up valuable staff time, enabling schools to focus on real educational outcomes.
“We can help schools look at their existing needs and supply base and our dedicated education team can provide on-site support to create quality specifications, ensuring the most relevant suppliers are sourced. We recognise the cost pressures that schools are facing and we are dedicated to supporting them to realise substantial efficiency savings and deliver the best outcomes for their pupils. Our competitive process ensures the best possible value with average savings of up to 19% against budget. With over 20 categories of professional services spend including over 340 sub-categories, we can help all education bodies deliver the projects that they need.”