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Cardiff Council

Cardiff Council

WINNER – GO Emerging Procurement Talent Award, UK National GO Awards 2019/20

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Cardiff Council were recognised at the UK National GO Awards for their innovative and successful student placement programme, run in conjunction with the University of  South Wales (USW). As well as providing individual students with invaluable experience, the programme contributes to the development of skills throughout the procurement industry. Steve Robinson, Head of Commissioning and Procurement for Cardiff Council and Managing Director of Atebion Solutions, and Scott Parfitt, Senior Lecturer at USW and course leader for the BSc Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain Management degree, explain what has made the scheme so successful.

The project

Steve Robinson: The relationship between Cardiff Council and USW started through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership that we entered into in 2008/9, to help us develop a more strategic approach to managing procurement in Cardiff, based on category management. That started giving us exposure to some of the talent the university were producing. It’s always been part of USW’s approach to encourage students to do a year in industry [between the second and third years of their degrees]. Scott and I developed a relationship through the KTP, and Scott then asked if we thought we could support the work USW do with student placements.

Cardiff Council student placement team with GO Award

The Cardiff Council team at the UK National GO Awards

We go through an interview process with students. For some of them it’s the first time they’ve been through an interview process. Based on that process, we’ll appoint somebody who’ll be with us for a full 12 months, during which time they’ll be a salaried employee of the council.

Plugging the skills gap

Scott Parfitt: At USW, we see the lack of supply and procurement talent. It’s a global issue, a UK issue and a Welsh issue. The problem of bringing talent in is not just something that’s experienced in terms of Cardiff. There’s a whole host of organisations in South Wales who struggle to attract procurement talent.

However, Wales is a procurement hotbed. We have lots of procurement organisations in South Wales, and USW is renowned for procurement. There’s a limited number of universities in the UK that offer degrees in procurement, and we’re one of only three UK institutions that have CIPS accreditation attached to an undergraduate degree. We’re obviously lucky that our local economy has a strong procurement connection. Cardiff are the shining light in terms of an organisation who work closely with us to help students develop to meet the demand – whether that be in Cardiff or in the wider Welsh or UK economy.

Steve Robinson: I act as Chair of the Welsh Local Government Association network, and recruitment is a problem all the local authorities face. The big challenge is finding people of the calibre you need. Many people now working in procurement didn’t leave school and think “let’s work in procurement”. The difference is that these students have made a conscious decision, at a fairly young age, that they would like to see a career in procurement. For me, that brings a level of professionalism that’s well overdue. They’re getting a good academic grounding early in their lives that they can build on through the industry experience they get. It’s down to people like Scott convincing them that there are great opportunities in supply chain. Without the programme, our ability to be able to recruit would be really challenged.

Developing talent

Steve Robinson: Because students are embedded in our category teams, which have got a high level of experience and expertise, they really couldn’t be learning from better practitioners. As well as gaining practical experience working on real projects with the team, we also support them with additional training. Students have done things like project management training or leadership training courses. A lot of that is standard training that’s available to council officers. We look to do anything we think is relevant to the students’ training and development, regardless of whether we’ll benefit from that in the long term or not.

Scott Parfitt: We’ve seen the students be very competitive to attain this position. Cardiff are one of the best teams in public sector procurement in the country, and the level of projects the students can get involved in is second to none. To see students develop expertise within a short period of time, working on relevant projects that add value to the council and the community that both USW and Cardiff Council are part of, is great. More and more we’re seeing the students getting kept on longer than the 12-month contract and continuing to work during their final year of study with us. Of Cardiff’s last seven appointments, six have come through our placement scheme. The others who haven’t been appointed to Cardiff have all gone on to achieve good careers in other institutions, all within procurement and supply chain roles.

Steve Robinson: Those six students will have all been through our open recruitment processes, where we are judging them against the calibre of other applicants – and to be honest there’s no comparison.

The GO Awards experience

Steve Robinson: The application process for the GO Awards is fairly straightforward. The limit on the number of words is actually a good thing, because it helps you focus on the key points you want to get across in the application. If there’s one thing in local government we can be criticised for, it’s not sharing good practice, and so even if we were not successful for the award, going through the process of generating case studies is very valuable. The criteria and definitions for the award categories are always very clear as well, which makes the process of writing these submissions up much more straightforward.

The key value is being able to celebrate success. Being successful in the GO Awards helps raise awareness and the profile of the work we’ve been doing, and it provides us with recognition of the work we’ve been doing, and that helps support the scheme. Because of the success we’ve had here, there are other departments now in other professions who can see the value of running similar programmes.

Scott Parfitt: I’d also like to thank BiP Solutions for providing our students with free entry to Procurex Wales for the last three years. It helps us attract students to the profession, by providing them with access to cutting edge industry research and trends at a leading procurement event.

You can learn more about the scheme on Cardiff Council’s website.

Liverpool City Council

Liverpool City Council

WINNER – GO Social and Community Benefit in Procurement Award (Local Authority, Consortia and Housing) – UK National GO Awards 2019/20

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Liverpool City Council was recognised at the UK National GO Awards for their ‘Liverpool Parklife’ project, which combined widespread community benefit and social value with an innovative approach to the procurement process, with a focus in an area Liverpool is already internationally famous for – football. Lorraine Cross, Category Manager at the Council’s Commercial Procurement Unit, details how social benefit was factored into every stage of the project.

Liverpool City Council with GO Award on stage

The project

Since 2000, grassroots football in Liverpool has been supported with significant investment in capital improvements through Football Foundation grants. However, Liverpool City Council (LCC) has faced a 65% cut in its budget since 2010 – the biggest to any local authority in the UK – and so we approached the Football Association (FA) to discuss how best to preserve the integrity of the local game in light of pressure on public budgets. It was concluded that there was an opportunity to remodel the way in which football is delivered to the communities of Liverpool so as both to reduce reliance on public subsidy and improve the quality of the offer made. The project has seen the creation of four new state-of-the-art football hubs, as part of a major £20 million investment in grassroots football across the city, with 12 floodlit 3G pitches, as well as health and fitness and coaching facilities – representing a major step-change in grassroots football provision across the city.

Social value in procurement

LCC is committed to use its buying power to drive social change. The council takes account of social benefits in the award of all its contracts. Although the requirement to bring in income and cover costs was high on the agenda [for this project], this was not the only priority for the Council or the funding partners. The construction and operator tenders therefore both included weightings to ensure social value opportunities were considered a priority.

It was a relatively simple process to include social value in the construction of the football hubs as LCC includes social value-related KPIs in all its construction projects, including KPIs around jobs, training and local spend. Construction contractors are generally familiar with this approach and recognise that cost is not our only priority.

Liverpool City Council team speech at GO AwardsIt was more difficult to ensure that the operator procurement not only covered the costs of the operation, but also geared their football programme to areas that would potentially be less profitable, e.g. girls’ football and disability sport. We were very specific in the evaluation around social value to ensure that Pulse, the operator awarded the contract, shared our aims and values.


There was extensive consultation and collaboration with a large number of community and sporting groups and partners [throughout the process]. We were fortunate to be able to use Sheffield University to undertake and manage this for us. This ensured that the results provided the decision makers with a better understanding of the stakeholders’ values, interests, issues, and concerns and allowed us to incorporate these responses into the project aims.

One of the biggest challenges was managing expectations. When the Parklife project was reported in the local press, it became obvious that members of the public and local councillors were keen to have the Parklife hubs ‘in their patch.’ This needed to be managed sensitively, with the final decision based on facts and evidence from detailed analysis undertaken to review the demographics to understand where there was most need and which sites would achieve most social value benefit. The consultation process undertaken helped this, as it had created a strong foundation for long-lasting and trustful relationships between the project and the stakeholders.

Community benefits

Key outcomes for Liverpool from the scheme include reducing the level of subsidy to football, thus removing the financial ramifications of LCC financing football; strategically located, high quality, affordable facilities; broader access to participation and exit routes to professional clubs for both males and females; and improved mental and physical health benefits, such as a reduction in obesity levels.

The construction of the football hubs was carried out by Kier and generated over £16.6m of social value on this project, including 140 apprenticeship weeks, with 10 apprentices gaining experience across the four sites; 2,260 school pupils engaged in 14 careers events; £3000 of donations to 13 local charities; and over £3m in local spend. Liverpool City Council team celebrating at GO Awards

Pulse, which was selected to operate the facilities for LCC, committed to provide various community programmes that will vary in scope and focus to meet the needs of local participants at each of the hubs. These include health and wellbeing initiatives such as ‘wellness prescriptions’, where local GP practices can refer ‘at risk’ patients through to nutritional advice and physical activity; adult and child weight management; cardio and pulmonary rehab; extensive work with disability groups; and more. All these can be delivered within the Parklife hubs using the facilities in a flexible and innovative way, to support the most vulnerable within the community.

In the first year of operation, over 60,000 users have registered at the sites with over 200,000 visits recorded. The Parklife sites in Liverpool are the most used of their type across thecountry. Our funding bodies will, through Sheffield University, undertake further research to review the success of the project, which they intend to roll out through the country.

The GO Awards experience

We decided to enter the GO Awards as we are very proud of this particular project, and felt that it showcased a unique approach to the inclusion of social value in our procurement processes. This was a real team effort and we are absolutely thrilled to have won the Award and to be recognised both internally by Liverpool City Council and externally by our peers. It was great to be able to attend the Awards evening with other team members, who were also extremely pleased to see the results of their hard work being recognised.

It’s been a fantastic opportunity to showcase a fantastic project that so many people have worked very hard on. It’s all been very positive!



Renfrewshire Council

Renfrewshire Council

WINNER – GO Procurement Project of the Year (sub-£20m value) – GO Awards Scotland 2018/19
WINNER – GO Procurement Project of the Year (sub-£20m value) – UK National GO Awards 2019/20

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Renfrewshire Council was recognised in both the GO Awards Scotland and the National GO Awards for their innovative Street Lighting Replacement Programme, which delivered sustainability and carbon reduction along with cashable savings and a creative approach to the procurement itself.  Bridget Lambert, Strategic Commercial & Procurement Manager at Renfrewshire Council, explains the shape of the project, and how it was able to achieve the success  it did. Epson logo


Renfrewshire Council accepting award

The Project

This procurement project aimed to deliver the objectives of the Street Lighting Improvement Strategy, which was agreed by the Council in 2015. The programme sought the conversion of 30,756 sodium streetlights to new energy-efficient LED lanterns, aiming to improve the quality of light and reduce both energy consumption and maintenance costs, with the whole programme to be completed within an ambitious 18-month timeline.


The greatest challenge associated with this project was the very tight timescales. The original estimate of time required was three years, but this was shortened to 18 months. To accommodate the ambitious project timescales, procurement adopted an innovative strategic approach to procure each requirement. Over 30,700 lanterns were required at an estimated cost of £9 million. To maintain the flow of the right products at the right time, we opted to conduct a series of mini competitions under Scotland Excel’s Street Lighting Materials framework, promoting a more agile approach to procurement, rather than bulk buying and holding stock. Nineteen individual mini competitions were carried out, and separate contracts were let for each phase of the installation. Procurement worked closely with each contractor to ensure the rapid delivery of LED lanterns, keeping the project moving and enabling it to deliver on time and on budget.

This approach saved the Council an estimated £120 per LED, with an overall savings on the supply element of circa £1.1 million.  Renfrewshire council team with GO Award


Social value and sustainability are very much at the heart of all that we do in Renfrewshire Council. We do not just consider the sustainability impact of our procurement but also how our procurements can actively improve social, economic and environmental wellbeing in our communities.

Sustainability and cost were of equal importance in this project. The project set out very clear aims and the relationship between cost, quality and sustainability was at the heart of our specification and approach. The project had to achieve cost savings, but it also had to achieve reductions in energy consumption and reduce our carbon footprint whilst also ensuring our streets remained well-lit and safe. The project successfully delivered on all of these goals.


The project was challenged with reducing cost, energy consumption and carbon consumption. In each case this project exceeded the original targets set, reducing energy consumption by 64%, electricity costs by over £1 million per annum and contributing to the overall reduction in the council’s carbon consumption by 8%.

The LED Replacement programme has been widely celebrated by the Council, both for the success of the project itself and the project team. Learning from this project has been shared across the Council and more widely with other councils across Scotland. I believe that this project provides a very good example of all that is great about procurement, the value we can add and how well we can work with our partner services to deliver all of the project objectives.

The GO Awards Experience

I would strongly encourage everyone in public sector procurement to enter the GO Awards. It only takes a little bit of time to complete the entry and to achieve finalist stage is such a fantastic recognition of all the hard work we put in. To be a winner on the night is a success not just for procurement but for the whole organisation.

Winning a GO Award is the highest accolade we can win as public sector procurement professionals. Recognition from peers across our sector means a great deal – it is a very great honour to win. Our team are a fantastic, hard-working and committed team, and this win means so much to them and to the wider organisation. It is the highpoint of our year so far.

Bank of England

Bank of England

WINNER – GO Procurement Leadership of the Year Award: Central Government & Healthcare Organisations, National GO Awards 2019/20 

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The Bank of England was recognised at the National GO Awards for their ‘Procurement 2020’ programme, a major overhaul of the Bank’s procurement strategy linked to their broader ‘Vision 2020’ strategy. Peter Quinn, Head of Procurement at the Bank, explains the scope and shape of the project, and how the Bank have been able to ensure the success of such a large-scale project.


The Project

Our aim was to modernise the procurement function and raise procurement standards across the Bank. Ultimately procurement at the Bank is all about achieving value for money and protecting the Bank against third party risks. We needed to modernise our procurement capability because the Bank’s dependency on suppliers is increasing, and managing supplier risk and value for money are key priorities for the Bank.


Some of the specific innovations of the project in terms of procurement include our new central team capability. We’ve recruited a new team with the right blend of hard and soft skills to drive the Bank’s procurement transformation. We’ve started to make use of systems and tools (4Tracker, Power BI, Helios and Proactis) to provide new procurement insights, metrics and dashboards to drive performance and raise standards. We developed a new risk triage tool and a new supplier code of practice to improve supplier segmentation, risk and quality management, and we’ve introduced three new Commercial Boards to improve commercial engagement, oversight and governance.

Sharing Knowledge

To strike a balance between recognising the good work the Bank was already doing in procurement and holding up the mirror to highlight where improvements needed to be made, we took good practice that we found in parts of the Bank and spread this to other areas. For example, our technology team were successfully operating a Commercial Board to improve their oversight of supplier management in this area. We replicated this idea, and the Bank now operates three Commercial Boards which provide oversight and scrutiny of the Bank’s entire third-party spending. Procurement 2020 started small as a concept without any associated budget. The project is now recognised as one of the Bank’s Central Services Division’s key projects. We had to start small, to build a business case for change and raise awareness and support for investment in procurement. Not having easy access to seed funding did present a problem, and we overcame this by aligning our objectives with other projects in the Bank who were able to provide some seed funding. Modernising the Bank’s procurement function meant working with a range of stakeholders internally and externally. We received a lot of support from the Bank’s union and the HR team to make the structural changes we needed.

Redefining Procurement

Procurement awareness training is now mandatory for all procurement ‘approvers’ across the Bank. As part of this training we explain that ‘procurement’ at the Bank is more than simply the name of the central team. Rather, procurement is the cycle of planning, buying and managing activities that all budget holders and contract managers get involved with. Suppliers play a crucial role in helping the Bank deliver its mission and critical functions such as regulating City firms, printing bank notes and settling trillions of financial transactions each day. Our supplier partners, 4C & Associates, Proactis and Helios, have all provided fantastic support to the Bank’s procurement evolution. I want to recognise their contribution to our success.

Procurement is to our suppliers what HR is to our staff. In the same way that the HR team help managers to get the best from our ‘people’ talent, the central procurement team help supplier and contract managers to get the best from the Bank’s supplier talent.

The GO Awards Experience

We applied for a GO Award to help recognise the good work everyone is doing. The team are very proud to have won an award. It’s a great feeling to be recognised amongst your peers right across central government and the NHS! The award ceremony itself was really good fun and a great team bonding experience for the Bank of England Procurement team. I would encourage others to tell their stories as the process is quite simple.

Transport Scotland

Transport Scotland

WINNER – GO Infrastructure Project of the Year and GO Excellence Scotland Award, GO Awards Scotland 2018/19
WINNER – GO Infrastructure Project of the Year, National GO Awards 2019/20

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Transport Scotland have tasted success at the GO Awards before, but most recently won for the huge Queensferry Crossing project. Ten years in the making, the project was a massive undertaking from the point of view of both construction and procurement. Lawrence Shackman, Head of Rail Projects and Technical Services at Transport Scotland, explains how the project took shape, some of the challenges it faced, and the benefits the project delivered to the local communities.




The project: innovations and challenges


Community benefits


The GO Awards experience


Video images courtesy of Transport Scotland. Music by

Warmworks Scotland

Warmworks Scotland

WINNER – GO Best Service Award: Medium & Large Organisations, GO Awards Scotland 2018/19
GO Best Service Award: Medium & Large Organisations, National GO Awards 2019/120

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Warmworks Scotland was set up to reduce fuel poverty in Scotland and drive energy efficiency and sustainability. A winner at the GO Awards Scotland, the Warmworks team were Logo for iCom Reward Worksautomatically entered for the UK National GO Awards and achieved further success there. Bronagh Finnegan, Public Affairs and Communications Manager at Warmworks, explains what has allowed the project to be delivered great service so consistently.

Warmworks Scotland team at GO Awards

The project

Warmworks Scotland was set up to deliver the Scottish Government’s ‘Warmer Homes Scotland’ scheme. The scheme, launched in September 2015, provides insulation, efficient heating and renewable technologies in the homes of people across Scotland who are struggling with the cost of high energy bills. The scheme receives up to £32 million a year of Scottish Government funding and is a key part of the Scottish Government’s aim to tackle fuel poverty across Scotland and make energy more affordable for all.


Warmworks captures more information, and is therefore able to provide more tailored solutions for individual households, than any other energy efficiency scheme of this type.

One example of this is our bespoke IT platform. In-home surveys are carried out using our tailor-made app on tablet devices, capturing and producing a full Energy Performance Certificate before information about the property is wirelessly synced back to the FileMaker database in the office. The information then syncs with our finance system to ensure any billing or payments to the sub-contracted supply chain of installers is done efficiently and accurately. More than 20,000 in-home surveys have already been completed and synced without duplication or confusion for the householder. Similarly, the property information can then be synced back to our inspection team to ensure that they have all the information required.

Delivering consistently

Fuel poverty is a complex issue and there is no one solution that fits all. Warmworks is tasked with delivering a first-class service to all our customers, irrespective of location.

Delivering the scheme to island communities generates unique challenges, some of which are beyond our control, for example bad weather or cancelled travel to some of the outer islands. To overcome this problem, we have committed to establishing a network of local contractors, with nine island sub-contractors now working on the scheme. We have put in place secure local storage facilities where we hold materials necessary to complete an installation. This ensures that people living in island communities receive the same service as customers on the mainland. Our efforts in this area are reflected in [the fact that] just under 20% of all of our installations take place in Highlands and Island communities – higher than the targets set by the Scottish Government. Our KPI performance and level of service delivered has been, for the last six months, as high in remote, rural areas as it has been in the more densely populated urban areas of the central belt of Scotland.

Some of our customers face challenges that can be a barrier to receiving help from the scheme, even though they qualify. For example, if a customer is receiving loft insulation and has a lot of possessions stored in the loft space, the installation may not be able to go ahead until the items have been cleared. The cost of this is not covered under the scheme, meaning that those customers would be at risk of having their application cancelled.

Warmworks Scotland acceptance speech at GO Awards

In looking for a solution, Warmworks engaged with both Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and SGN, who agreed to provide an ‘enabling fund’ for customers, which can be used to remove any barriers that prevent the customer getting help under Warmer Homes Scotland. This proactive, innovative engagement with stakeholders has resulted in over 75 customers receiving help from enabling funds who otherwise would have had to cancel their applications.

We have set extremely high standards for ourselves in the way that we put the customer at the heart of what we do – and 100% of our customers reported themselves as satisfied or very satisfied with the work carried out.

Supply chain management

We manage a Scotland-wide supply chain of 22 locally based sub-contractors. This is a fundamental part of our success and is achieved by effective management and regular engagement. For example, monthly meetings are held to hear how the process is working, and we offer support as necessary to ensure high levels of service delivery are maintained. In addition, we hold two sub-contractor forums per year where we reflect on the delivery of the scheme to date. We also reward contractors who have upheld our standards and values throughout the year in an awards ceremony.

Transparency, openness and respect are at the heart of Warmworks’ relationships with our SME sub-contractors. More than 96% of our sub-contractors are paid within 30 days and all receive a fair rate for the work they do. In turn, we ask that they pay their people the Scottish Living Wage to ensure that the benefits of the scheme’s investment in local communities are properly and reasonably shared. All of this helps to ensure that best practice is reflected throughout the supply chain as a whole.

The GO Awards Experience

We decided to enter the GO Awards because we feel our approach to transparent procurement and collaborative contract management is one that works. We are proud of the success we have achieved so far and felt it was important that the wider team and supply chain were recognised for all the hard work they have put in over the years in delivering the scheme.

The fact that we won in our category in both the Scottish and UK-wide GO Awards has not only enhanced the morale within our team and our supply chain, but it has also demonstrated to our wider stakeholders and our customers that we are committed to delivering a first-class service and will continue to do so over the months and years to come. We were pleased with our experience of entering the Awards and found the ceremonies to be enjoyable and well organised.