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Think you know all about public sector owned professional buying organisations (PBOs) and what they do? Here are ten interesting facts that might just surprise you:

  1. Public sector owned professional buying organisations were set up by local government to support local government procurement. Working with and independently of each other, PBOs you may have heard of include CCS, ESPO, NEPO and YPO. There are many more, some with specialist expertise in sectors such as health or education and those who focus specifically on certain geographic areas.
  1. From HIV testing kits to classroom chairs, professional buying organisations supply thousands of different goods to all types of public sector organisations. And it’s not just products, but a host of services too that give public sector organisations reliable, cost-effective and compliant access to everything from banking services that can help save customers money to translation services that help the emergency services administer care to non-English speakers in life threatening situations.
  1. The purchasing frameworks set up by professional buying organisations help to deliver significant savings across the public sector. For example, £1 billion of public sector spend has gone through ESPO’s MSTAR framework for the sourcing of temporary staff and it has so far delivered over £140 million in  savings nationwide. Aside from considerable savings, frameworks also help public sector organisations access the goods and services they need compliantly from a list of pre-approved capable suppliers.
  1. Professional buying organisations recognise the diversity, creativity and customer service excellence that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can bring to the supply chain. Previously, many SMEs were deterred from bidding for tenders due to lack of resources and the belief that it’s only the big suppliers that are awarded a place on frameworks. However, many PBOs will now work actively with SMEs to ensure the tender process is easily accessible for them too. This process has been fruitful with ESPO awarding between 60-80% of its contracts to SMEs over the last twelve months. SMEs that win PBO contracts put an impressive 58% more into the local economy than larger firms.
  1. Professional buying organisations help our children learn. Over the course of a year, ESPO on average provides schools with over 21 million pens, 14 million exercise books and over 12 million pencils. Did you know the average pencil can draw a line 35 miles long? Based on the amount of pencils ESPO sells per year, that’s enough to draw a line around the equator 16,886 times or draw to Mars and back six times.
  1. No-one needs to go hungry when there’s a professional buying organisation around! Public sector organisations purchased over five million fish fingers from ESPO’s Ambient, Chilled and Frozen Food framework alone.
  1. Ever wonder where your wheelie bins come from? Well chances are a professional buying organisation! They play a crucial role in ensuring that Britain’s 400 councils have enough bins to fulfil the UK’s waste and recycling needs.
  1. Did you think that green energy was mainly about solar panels on the roof? ESPO provides a framework for public buyers to put energy generation on their own building – it’s called ‘microgeneration’ technologies. As well as photovoltaic cells, the framework covers ground and air source heat pumps, small wind turbines, and biomass boilers.  You’ll never look at the dining hall roof in the same way again.
  1. Professional buying organisations could prevent ‘UK plc’ from grinding to a halt if we get a severe winter. ESPO works with the three main UK salt mines to provide de-icing salt and chemicals to local authorities and national-level highways bodies.
  1. Public sector sick pay is estimated to cost £4.5 billion a year. ESPO is helping employers get staff back to work thanks to its Occupational Health framework. It supplies occupational health professionals who can work directly with employees to handle anything from pre-employment screening and checking workstations to stress and ill-health retirement assessments.
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