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FE sector controls first purchasing consortium

The FE sector is taking control of its own purchasing consortium for the first time, promising massive savings for the nation’s colleges.

The College Finance Directors Group is acquiring the Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC) from the University of Salford. Colleges will now be able to refine their own contracts and framework, and create new tender areas as they take ownership of the largest purchasing consortium in FE.

"Buying out CPC supports the Government’s overall procurement agenda as it will make the sector leaner and more efficient. The deal also allows us to continue to work collaboratively with the University of Salford," says David Pullein, Chair of the College Finance Directors Group.

"The University of Salford had set up the CPC and through it they had very effectively supported the FE sector for many years as we have developed our procurement techniques. It is almost like they have brought up a child and now it is leaving home and looking after itself!"

The CPC has attracted more than 550 college and academy members since being founded ten years ago. During this time, the consortium has seen the spend through its contract soar from £20m to £80m.

CPC’s managing director, Peter Brewer, believes the takeover is a massive achievement for the sector.

"We have known for a while that the general aim has been to give colleges their own buying consortium as by doing this, the FE sector is coming into line with other sectors like Higher Education. There should be a lot of benefits for the colleges as we hope that as Consortium owners their expected increase of contract usage will lead to ever improving contracts. Collaborative procurement is the way forward and the FE sector now owns the vehicle to drive this further," says Mr Brewer.

Simon Attwell, the University of Salford’s director of finance, who led the negotiations on behalf of the university, adds: "The University is delighted that the FE Colleges wish to take responsibility for their own Consortium and to build on the excellent work that CPC has achieved over the years on their behalf. We believe that this is an excellent model for other cooperation and collaboration between FE and HE and we shall take great pride in following the continued success of CPC and its staff."

(Pictured: David Pullein, Chair of the College Finance Directors Group)

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