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GPSJ - Autumn 2023

December 2023


District Council issues a Stop Notice to the Home Office at Scampton

West Lindsey District Council’s enforcement officers have today served an Enforcement Notice and a Stop Notice to the Home Office, which calls for all work to cease at RAF Scampton.

It means that all activity using the site as accommodation for asylum seekers must stop, pursuant to section 172 and 183 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) in respect of RAF Scampton.

As previously reported, the Home Office is working on locating 2,000 asylum seekers on the former RAF site at Scampton, with a view to having the site at full capacity by December 2023.

The Council, which is the local planning authority, has raised concerns about the work taking place and first issued a Temporary Stop Notice on September 8. The Council considered that there has been a breach of planning control relating specifically to the Listed Buildings and archaeology on the site.

This notice was followed up with a site visit on Thursday 14 September. During the site visit, it was clear to officers that there has been a breach of planning control.

The breach of planning control is described as without planning permission:

  • The making of a material change of use of the site to accommodate asylum seekers.
  • The carrying out of operational development including the siting of Portakabins to house asylum seekers and significant invasive grounds.

The Council considers it to be in the public interest to take immediate action and therefore the Stop Notice takes place with immediate effect.

Sally Grindrod-Smith, Director of Planning Regeneration and Communities at West Lindsey District Council, said: “At the Site visit last week, officers observed significant works on site that were not considered as part of the Home Office’s Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Request. This means that the impact of the development has not been properly assessed.

“Emergency permitted development rights (pursuant to Schedule 2 Part 19 Class Q of the Town and Country (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2010 (as amended) are only available to the government in a genuine emergency, which has not been proven and when a negative environmental impact assessment screening decision is in place. Additionally, it is clear from the scale of works on Site that this development is not limited to a temporary period of 12 months.”

The Enforcement Notice and the Stop Notice requires that the Home Office:

  • Ceases using the Site as accommodation for asylum seekers.
  • Removes any asylum seekers residing on the Site.
  • Ceases operational development works to Site Portakabins on the site and ancillary works associated with the siting of the Portakabins such as utility connections, any hard standing, fencing to enclose the Portakabins.
  • Ceases all intrusive groundworks on the Site; and
  • Restores the Site to its original condition.

Cllr Trevor Young, Leader of West Lindsey District Council emphasised the point that it is an offence to fail to comply with a Stop Notice.

He said: “From the moment the decision to use RAF Scampton as an asylum accommodation centre was made, the Council have been clear that this is not an appropriate site for this purpose.

“Use of the Site for asylum accommodation puts at risk the £300million investment proposal.

“It is incredibly disappointing that despite repeated assurances that the Site would be safe, legal and compliant, the Home Office has failed to secure appropriate planning permission or to adequately assess the impact of their proposals.

“It is an offence to contravene the Stop Notice and I urge the Home Office to cease all works in line with this legal action.”

A high court date has now been confirmed for West Lindsey District Council’s judicial review, which will take place on 31 October and 1 November.

John Pye Appointed to Multi-Million Pound Emergency Services Framework

National auction house John Pye & Sons Limited has secured a four-year nationwide framework worth up to £50,000,000 to oversee the disposal and auction of end-of-life emergency service or “Blue Light” vehicles.

The ‘Framework for the Provision of Auction and Disposal of End-of-Life Vehicles and Items’ was awarded by BlueLight Commercial, an organisation established by the Home Office in 2020.

John Pye will oversee the disposal and auction of emergency vehicles that are no longer fit for purpose, such as police cars and fire engines. The framework includes managing vehicles that must be scrapped or recycled with components made available for the ‘green parts’ market and redistributing other premium vehicles that are suitable for resale.

The auction specialist’s Government and Vehicles departments will work closely with garages, second-hand vehicle traders and the primary target of end-consumers across its network of UK suppliers to ensure all premium, decommissioned vehicles generate a healthy interest.

Zoe Wright, Director at John Pye, said: “We are thrilled to be appointed to this highly prestigious framework. As the leading full-service specialist for vehicle auctioning and recycling, we’re proud to provide a sales solution for emergency vehicle disposal.

“We understand that the resale and disposal of ex-emergency vehicles is highly sensitive, and we place our operations under intense scrutiny, carefully balancing income generation for the Authority with supporting sustainability and the environment and protecting the Authority’s reputation against unwanted reputational risk.

“We are looking forward to this new opportunity to build on our excellent reputation with the emergency services and broadcast our excellent service offering to a wider audience.”

To find out more about John Pye Auctions and the comprehensive services it offers, please visit:

Unit4 Studies: Organisations Adopting Shared Services to Drive Transformation

Leading public sector and professional services organisations look to shared services model to improve core business functions, data compatibility and real-time analytics

Unit4, a leader in enterprise cloud applications for people-centric organisations, today highlighted key trends in shared services adoption among public sector and professional services organisations (PSO), drawing on data from the 2023 State of the Digital Nation and Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) Study: Professional Services – A Benchmark for 2023, both commissioned by Unit4.

The studies reveal there is already widespread acceptance of shared services among both PSOs and public sector bodies. However, it suggests that there is a clear focus on using shared services not only to drive cost savings but to improve operational performance, decision-making and agility, in order to achieve organisational resilience.

Moving beyond cost saving to shared resilience

Internationally, around half of the PSOs in the PAC Study say they have centralised project management, customer services, and sales and marketing, which indicates that shared services can be effective in streamlining key customer facing business processes. One fifth of PSO firms say that in the next three years they will focus on aligning core project, contract and resource management processes, which is similar in the UK. This could be in response to the impact of remote working, as well as PSOs recognising the potential to develop global delivery models, which require critical functions to be simplified and co-ordinated across borders. Across all the markets, almost a quarter (24%) say they will centralise Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) in the next three years, but this is a lower priority in the UK (15%), which is possibly because 60% say they have already centralized finance and accounting. This demonstrates that PSOs plan to capitalise on the benefits they have achieved to-date with shared services, in order to create a single view of company-wide data using FP&A tools. It also reflects the understanding that the benefits of a shared services approach are not limited to removing costs, but also include the development of greater agility in responding to opportunities using real-time insights.

“PSOs are adapting quickly and they understand that shared services can help to build resilience against market uncertainty, which is critical if they are to remain competitive,” said Mike Ettling, CEO, Unit4. “During the pandemic, PSOs experimented with global delivery models and, for ambitious mid-market firms, this can act as a way to differentiate. To be successful, though, requires streamlined and aligned internal and external business processes. It is clear that the shared services model offers a more effective way to establish the right foundations for global delivery strategies.”

Belgian PSOs (37%) are ahead of the global average, intending to move finance and accounting functions to a shared services model in the next three years, compared to 25% in the Nordics and globally 38% of IT Services firms. The DACH region clearly illustrates the benefits of moving to a shared services model, as 77% of PSOs have already moved their project management teams to this way of working and they outperform their peers in terms of delivering projects on time. This can, in part, be attributed to having a holistic view of all the data within their organisations on project management.

Public Sector

There has been significant growth in the adoption of central and shared services, which has gone from 0% in 2021 to 33% in 2023, according to the State of the Digital Nation study. For those already using central and shared services, growing its footprint has been one of the top three changes that public sector organisations have seen in the last 24 months.

Canadian respondents place the greatest emphasis on it, but it drops out of the top three for UK respondents. In contrast, it is a top three priority for central government and healthcare bodies, but falls just outside for state/local/municipal authorities.

“There is an urgency to look at the shared services model in the public sector, not just because of budget constraints but because it is understood that service providers must collaborate to deliver services effectively to citizens,” Mike Ettling, CEO, Unit4. “Shared services are going through a perception change in that they are no longer just seen as a means of cutting costs, but as a strategic means to resolve fundamental challenges around legacy systems, data compatibility and delivering real-time analytics. The model has the potential to deliver on ambitious transformation goals to make the public sector fit-for-purpose in the 21st Century.”

In 2023, 29% of respondents say there is a need for wholesale improvement in data compatibility, while 34% say large improvements are needed. Canada has the highest percentage (41%) demanding wholesale change compared to UK (35%) and Sweden (17%). Central government respondents (43%) are most likely to say this issue requires wholesale improvement, compared to state/ local/ municipal bodies (29%) and healthcare providers (16%). Finance decision makers also say that accessing real-time data has become harder (54%), compared to the previous study in 2021 (40%). All these indications underline the importance of having centralised services where public sector bodies can streamline and integrate all sources of data within their organisations to form an accurate picture of priorities and respond with greater agility to optimise performance.

Trusted, tailored, tech transformations: IT reseller boxxe wins big, securing place on Higher Education framework with Dell Technologies

boxxe, a York-based IT solutions company, has today announced a successful partnering with Dell Technologies to secure a place on the SSSNA framework as trusted providers of hardware solutions to Higher Education institutions.

SSSNA is an IT purchasing framework agreement enabling all universities, Higher Education and Further Education establishments to purchase tech provision in a hugely rewarding time-efficient, cost-effective way. Through this agreement, institutions don’t need to go through individual EU tenders each time they wish to procure servers, storage and solutions, including converged infrastructure and end to end solutions.*

boxxe now represents Dell as trusted, responsible suppliers for Lot 1 – Servers and Lot 3 – Converged, Hyper-converged and Solutions. An incredible achievement for boxxe, as they join a select handful of valued Dell services resellers to, HE establishments.

boxxe secured their partnership after proving exceptional technical reach, capabilities and specialist knowledge within their Dell Technologies portfolio. They gave evidence of their Sales & Technical reach, quality customer experience and depth of understanding inside Higher Education in a bid to demonstrate their value and commitment as full end-to-end HE digital transformation specialists.

Their expansive knowledge of Dell’s Server and Storage portfolio, alongside excellent capabilities to sell, build, support and design the technologies positioned them as strong contenders for the framework partnership. It is boxxe’s strategic planning and focus on Dell products and services – the full APEX portfolio – including the PowerStore, PowerScale & Powerflex, Dell Financial Services and SecureWorks, that cinched their claim as Dell Technologies SSSNA Framework partners.

Steve Scholey, Partner Account Manager at Dell Technologies said, “A huge well done to boxxe for bolstering their goal to become a leading VAR in the Dell Higher Education space, this time by securing a place on the SSSNA framework.

“As a nominated reseller on both Lots 1&3 of the framework , boxxe intend to leverage the key relationships they have to maximise utilisation of the SSSNA framework to deliver best of breed solutions into Higher Education. Dell nominated resellers are chosen for their business development activity and infrastructure services and skills.”

Full end-to-end digital transformation

With time, money and effort at stake, students are expecting more, and better, services from their educational institutes, who now face fierce competition in their efforts to recruit them. The time is nigh to step up and provide them with the best educational experience possible, which means incorporating sustainability into every aspect of their operations. boxxe also notes that the SSSNA framework encourages suppliers to operate and promote sustainable practices, and are delighted that their own values align with this mission.

“Educational institutions are standing on the precipice of an extraordinary era of digital transformation” explains Mark Smith, Technology Lead for Infrastructure Solutions at boxxe.With customer experience, data services and cybersecurity identified as top priorities, this is a fantastic time for boxxe to be joining the SSSNA framework. Our deep expertise, commitment to sustainability, practical know-how and focus on meaningful relationships allows us to harness tech’s ability to change lives and transform businesses.

This partnership with Dell on the framework is a huge step on our mission to making tech human. It represents another strong commitment to provide value to our customers along each and every step of their digital transformation journey. We’d like to thank Dell for their unwavering faith in boxxe as outstanding tech solution suppliers, and we’re looking forward to furthering our decade long partnership as trusted Dell Technologies specialists.

It’s an exciting time in the Public Sector as a whole, and we’re proud to have the relevant accreditations and a place in the frameworks that are guiding its invaluable and highly lucrative digital transformation.”

For more information please visit:

Blackhawk Network Awarded a place on ESPO’s Staff Benefits Framework

Blackhawk Network(BHN), the global market leader in payments, rewards and incentives, has been awarded a place on ESPO’s Staff Benefits Framework (319_23).

  • Lot 1 Managed Services Platform for Benefit Schemes
  • Lot 2 Cycle to Work Salary Sacrifice Schemes
  • Lot 4 Technology Products Schemes

Joining the ESPO Staff Benefits Framework will allow public sector organisations to onboard employees to BHN’s employee benefits platform, BHN Extras, with the assurance that BHN meets the procurement criteria.

BHN Extras is a leading, cost-effective, employee engagement and benefits platform. It’s a simple, straightforward, no-hassle way to offer employees a comprehensive range of flexible, personalised workplace benefits that support their mental, physical and financial wellbeing. Benefits include leading Cycle To Work solution, Cyclescheme, Techscheme, Byond cashback card, MyGymDiscounts and Health Assured’s EAP.

According to our research, 68% of employers received requests for financial support from their employee, indicating the importance of employee benefits in the current financial climate.

Over three quarters (76%) of employees we surveyed said they were looking at ways to save more money and the majority of employees surveyed think their employer could do more to support them through the cost-of-living crisis (53%).

Chris Ronald, VP EMEA B2B – Incentives, Rewards & Benefits , BHN, said:

“The insight from our data is clear. Staff are demanding more from their employer and rightly so, as the everyday costs remain high, and the cost-of-living crisis endures. The good news is our range of voluntary benefits through BHN Extras can help people save money on the things that matter to them. From commuting costs to supermarket shops, home appliances, tech, and much more. A flexible choice of benefits can help public sector organisations attract and keep the best people, contribute towards employee health and wellbeing, and encourage positive values. “In the public and third sector alone, 60 local authorities and 52 NHS Trusts across the UK already partner with BHN for employee benefits.

Fusion21 announces £346 million Building Improvements Framework

Social enterprise Fusion21 has announced the renewal of its national Building Improvements Framework worth up to £346 million over four years and is now inviting bids from interested contractors of any size, providing local, regional or national coverage.

Developed to support public sector organisations, including housing, education, and healthcare providers, the framework offers a wide range of internal and external improvement works from the installation of kitchens, bathrooms, windows and doors to roofing work. It has been enhanced to include four new dedicated lots covering damp and mould, external environmental improvements (such as fencing, driveways, walls, hard and soft landscaping), insulation, and aids and adaptations.

Split into a total of nine lots, the structure is:

  • Lot 1 Kitchens and Bathrooms
  • Lot 2 Windows and Doors
  • Lot 3 Pitched Roofing
  • Lot 4 Flat Roofing
  • Lot 5 Insulation
  • Lot 6 External Environmental Improvements
  • Lot 7 Aids and Adaptations
  • Lot 8 Damp and Mould
  • Lot 9 Internal and external general repair and improvement works

Peter Francis, Executive Director of Operations at Fusion21 said: “Set to launch in January 2024, this framework has been renewed in line with the proposed Decent Homes Standard updates and now covers even more aspects of building improvement. We’ve listened to member and supply chain feedback and enhanced the framework in several ways, including the introduction of four new lots and making it easier for contractors to apply by creating dedicated lots for specific building improvements. There is also a specific lot for organisations that can offer both internal and external general repair and improvement works.

“Fusion21 members can access a renewed framework which has been updated to include potential changes in current and future member requirements. Additional benefits for Fusion21 members include accessing a compliant and efficient route to market, while being supported to deliver social value they can see in communities, aligned with their organisational objectives.”

Fusion21’s Building Improvements Framework offers flexible call-off options including direct award and geographical coverage across the UK, down to a regional and local level.

Tender applications are welcome from interested organisations that meet the criteria set out in the tender documentation, now available on the Delta e-Sourcing Portal via the following link HERE.

The submission deadline is Thursday 5 October 2023.

Matrix Teams Up with The Apprentice Star, Tim Campbell, to Support National Interview Week

Matrix steps forward as a strategic partner for National Interview Week, a ground-breaking education initiative aimed at bridging the gap between education and career

Tim Campbell

Matrix, one of the UK’s leading Workforce Management companies, is proud to announce its strategic partnership with National Interview Week, a pioneering education and early career initiative set to launch on December 4th, 2023.

This partnership underscores Matrix’s commitment to its social value strategy and its dedication to closing the widening divide between education and career. By aligning with this innovative project, Matrix is able to demonstrate its unique position as a representative of both workers and employers, making the initiative a natural fit for the company’s ethos.

Recent statistics have highlighted critical gaps in the career development of students across the UK:

  • 38% of state-school students have not participated in any career-related activities.
  • 37% of state-school senior leaders lack sufficient funding for comprehensive careers guidance.
  • 36% of secondary school students lack confidence in navigating the next steps of their education and training.
  • An increase of £4,600 in annual earnings is associated with young people possessing better essential skills.

In response to these pressing issues, National Interview Week has been conceived to empower students. The initiative provides 5,000 free interview coaching sessions during the upcoming Autumn Term, targeting students in Year 12 and above from state schools and colleges. The programme aims to build students’ interview confidence and connect them with mentors to enhance their personal development.

Siobhan Goss, Matrix’s social value manager comments,We understand the importance of giving these vital life skills to young people and this opportunity allows us to do it on a much greater scale. It aligns perfectly with our current social value strategy and our wider purpose of connecting people to work.  We are excited to be working with Tim Campbell and supporting National Interview Week and look forward to seeing how the project develops over the next couple of years, culminating in not just 5000 students being helped but 50,000”

Mark Inskip – Matrix

National Interview Week is a joint effort between YourGamePlan and Oppidan Education. YourGamePlan’s extensive reach in the education sector, offering accredited training to schools and colleges across the UK, complements Oppidan Education’s experience in delivering personal development programs. Together, they aim to equip students with the skills needed for a successful transition from education to independence.

Renowned entrepreneur and former star of The Apprentice, Tim Campbell, is spearheading National Interview Week. Commenting on the initiative, he remarked, “I remember the feeling at school of not knowing what I wanted to do when I left. That uncertainty was made worse by the fact that I had no idea what my next steps should be and absolutely no interview practice – those first interviews are a pretty alien process to a young person. My career has put me through some tough selection processes (with The Apprentice being one of them!) and I really feel that more needs to be done to prep students who are looking to get that crucial first job.”

Mark Inskip, CEO at Matrix, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, stating, “Our collaboration with National Interview Week reflects Matrix’s dedication to nurturing the future workforce. By supporting this initiative, we are contributing to the development of essential skills that will empower young individuals to make confident and informed career choices.”

Registration for schools opens on September 5th. To learn more and sign up, please visit

Blackhawk Network approved for third Crown Commercial Service Framework

Blackhawk Network(BHN), the global market leader in payments, rewards and incentives, has been awarded a third Crown Commercial Service Framework. Cyclescheme, a wholly owned subsidiary of BHN, has been approved to join the (CCS) RM6273 Employee Benefits & Services Framework.

With Cyclescheme, the UK’s leading Cycle to Work provider, employees can save up to 42% on a new bike, e-bike or cycling accessories by spreading the cost of their purchases through salary sacrifice. The salary sacrifice is taken from employees’ gross salary before tax, so it’s cost-positive for the employer.

Joining the framework will allow public sector organisations to offer their employees Cyclescheme; with a choice of 2,600 retailers, and a way to save on commuting costs, whilst getting fitter and reducing their carbon footprint via a CCS approved procurement supplier.

Insights from BHN’s recent employee research showed that over three quarters (76%) of employees are looking at ways to save more money, and the majority of employees surveyed thought their employer could do more to support them through the cost-of-living crisis (53%).

Chris Ronald, VP EMEA, B2B – Incentives, Rewards & Benefits, BHN, said: “As the leading Cycle to Work provider we are proud to have been selected to support public sector employees to save money and keep fit. BHN has over 30 years’ experience in benefits and employee engagement, supporting organisations to engage and create loyal, inclusive and energised workforces. From our research, we know that the UK is still suffering the effects of the cost-of-living crisis, which is why we are passionate about what we do and encourage all employers to introduce ways to support employee’s financial wellbeing and encourage participation. Joining the CCS Employee Benefits & Services Framework forms part of our continued commitment to serve the public and third sectors.”

The appointment came after a competitive tender process undertaken by CCS and will be in place for an initial three years. CCS plays a vital role supporting the UK public sector save money when buying common goods and services.

To find out more please visit

Government suicide prevention fund for charity sector to be boosted

  • Multi-million-pound fund for charity sector to carry out crucial work – alongside the NHS – to save lives and tackle tragedy of suicide  
  • Government calls on charities across England to apply for funding to continue supporting tens of thousands of people experiencing suicidal thoughts 
  • Comes alongside expected £13.6 billion this year to transform the country’s mental health services so millions of people can quickly access NHS support  

Tens of thousands of people experiencing suicidal thoughts or approaching a mental health crisis will receive vital support, as the government relaunches a £10 million fund so charities can work with the NHS to provide life-saving suicide prevention services.

Charities in communities across England can now apply for the latest round of funding from the Suicide Prevention Grant Fund which will ensure as many people as possible can access the support and prevention services they need, when they need it. Funding will also help prevent people reaching crisis point and reduce future demand for these services across both the charity sector and the NHS.

A previous fund of £5.4 million in 2021-22 supported over 100 organisations within the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. The results of the fund were overwhelmingly positive, with virtually every single successful bidder saying it helped meet increased demand after the pandemic, improved access to services for people in need, and helped identify those experiencing suicidal thoughts quicker.

Previous grant recipients included:

  • James’ Place Charity which used £283,968 to provide innovative and free suicide prevention therapy to men over the age of 18 in Merseyside and London
  • The Caribbean and African Health Network in Manchester which was awarded £41,599 for work to tackle taboos around suicide in Black communities
  • Papyrus which was awarded £151,815 to provide confidential support and advice specifically to young people and anyone worried about a young person through their HOPELINE247

The funding comes alongside a projected £13.6 billion investment by the NHS this year to continue to provide, expand and transform mental health services in England including NHS talking therapies, children and young people’s mental health services and eating disorder services.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:  

“Too many lives are sadly lost to suicide and my sympathy goes out to those affected by its truly devastating impacts.

“We’re already urgently investing record sums of money to transform and expand NHS mental health services, but the voluntary suicide prevention sector is such an important part of the support on offer and this multi-million pound fund recognises the work it carries out alongside the NHS.

“I encourage charities to apply for this funding so they can continue to save lives, tackle taboos, and make a real difference to so many people.”

PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide chief executive Ged Flynn said:

“Funding is vital if we are to continue giving hope to children and young people who are struggling with life, and we welcome the government’s contribution which will go some way to help.

“The services we offer are underpinned by voluntary income; kind donations, fundraising and public support. That generosity funds our confidential HOPELINE247 service which allows our professional suicide prevention advisers to keep young people safe.

“We also rely on voluntary income to help us engage with local communities on suicide prevention initiatives across the UK, offer training to groups and individual and support a network of volunteers who have lived experience of suicide.”

Suicide is sadly the biggest cause of death in both men and women under the age of 35 in the UK, and there has been a noticeable increase in the last decade in the number of tragic suicides among women under the age of 25.

NHS crisis lines receive 200,000 calls per month and the Samaritans report receiving over 10,000 calls per day on average.

This latest round of government funding, however, could be used by the VCSE sector to boost capacity in crisis helplines – both for those struggling and for those who are concerned about a loved one – provide signposting to services, launch campaigns targeted at specific at-risk groups like young men, and also support families who have experienced the tragedy of losing a loved one by suicide.

Minister for Mental Health Maria Caulfield said:  

“Every single suicide is a tragedy – one which still affects too many people in England. Heartbreakingly, it is still the biggest killer of men under 35.

“But we’re taking action. This £10 million fund for the voluntary and charity sector will help people nationwide receive crucial mental health support and builds on the success of previous funds, which supported tens of thousands of people approaching a crisis.

“We’re already investing £57 million into suicide prevention schemes through the NHS Long-Term Plan, and all local areas now have suicide prevention plans to address the specific needs of their populations.”

While this funding will help fund a range of preventative and innovative activity up and down the country, the government is committed to doing all it can to prevent deaths by suicide. Later this year, it will publish a new National Suicide Prevention Strategy that will set out further actions and commitments to deliver this.

Professor Sir Louis Appleby National Advisor on the Suicide Prevention Strategy said:

“Charities play a critical role in preventing suicide and today’s launch of the grant fund will support their vital work. Given the pressures facing the sector, I hope all eligible organisations will consider bidding for funding.”

The government is investing at least £2.3 billion of additional funding a year by March 2024 to expand and transform NHS mental health services, so an extra two million people can get the mental health support they need.

Over £400 million is also going into improving mental health facilities, including by giving patients the privacy of their own bedroom and eradicating shared dorms.

The mental health workforce is also growing. In December 2022, we saw almost 9,000 more mental health staff working than the previous year. The NHS Long Term Workforce plan sets out ambitions to grow the mental health workforce further.

Professor Subodh Dave, Dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“We welcome this funding for suicide prevention. We strongly back the roll out of evidence-based programmes to support those at risk of suicide, most of whom are not in contact with mental health services.”

Imprivata and PFH Technology Group Win National Contract to Supply Access Management to Healthcare Services Across Ireland

Clinicians and healthcare workers across Ireland to benefit from increased security and significant time savings that can be redirected towards providing excellent patient care

Imprivata®, the digital identity company for life-and mission-critical industries, announced that together with regional partner, PFH Technology Group, it has won a national framework contract with Health Service Executive (HSE) to deliver Imprivata OneSign®, an Enterprise Access Management solution, to healthcare organisations across Ireland. The framework competition was conducted by Tallaght University Hospital on behalf of the HSE. Health staff will be able to instantly access clinical systems by entering their password once per shift and reauthenticating with just the tap of their ID badge, reducing the reliance on remembering complex passwords and associated stress for stretched clinicians, while improving security of sensitive patient data.

In a pilot study conducted by Tallaght University Hospital, Imprivata’s Enterprise Access Management solution has shown to save up to 50 minutes per shift for busy clinical staff; time that can be redirected to patient care. The Imprivata solution is part of the eHealth National Single Sign-on project and will be made available across the Irish public health and social care system to provide a digital workplace. The initial roll-out will involve:

  • Tallaght University Hospital
  • Beaumont Hospital
  • Rotunda Hospital
  • Galway University Hospital
  • Cork University Maternity Hospitals
  • National Forensic Mental Health Service Hospital
  • National Rehabilitation Hospital

Supporting Quotes:

Daniel Johnston, MRes, RN, Sr Clinical Workflow Specialist & UK NHS Clinical Safety Officer at Imprivata said, “Connecting care systems through digital transformation can improve efficiency and satisfaction, making the day-to-day experiences of clinicians easier and more fulfilling. Breaking down the barriers to accessing technology with solutions such as single sign-on is a significant step forward for clinicians on the frontline.”

Cathal Collier, eHealth Programme Manager at HSE said, “This contract awarded to Imprivata and PFH Technology Group is part of a number of national Programmes and Strategies that have been initiated to harness technology, which is enabling HSE to make significant strides towards delivering digital health systems across Ireland.”

David Wall Chief Information Officer, Tallaght University Hospital stated, “Imprivata OneSign will enable clinical staff that need to access patient records electronically to move between computer systems without the need to log into solutions more than once. Clinical staff will be able to move seamlessly between systems staying with the same patient, which provides the infrastructure to support effective clinical decision making. “

Commenting on the project, Paul Silke, Client Director at PFH Technology Group said; “This is a clear example of a digital transformation solution that ultimately provides tangible benefits to patients. The Imprivata Single Sign On (SSO) solution is simple and clever allowing healthcare professionals to save valuable time and to help them to focus on the key tasks at work.”

About Imprivata
Imprivata is the digital identity company for life- and mission-critical industries, redefining how organisations solve complex workflow, security, and compliance challenges with solutions that protect critical data and applications without workflow disruption. Its platform of interoperable identity, authentication, and access management solutions enable organisations in over 45 countries to fully manage and secure all enterprise and third-party digital identities by establishing trust between people, technology, and information.

For more information please visit:

Risk and Data Regulation: Are We Playing ‘Catch Up’ with AI?

Jakub Lewandowski

By Jakub Lewandowski, Global Data Governance Officer at Commvault

It can’t have escaped your notice that there’s a lot of heated debate around AI at the moment, most specifically around the emergence of generative AI algorithms and Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, Google Bard, Dolly, and others.

The rapid uptake of this technology has had a significant impact on just about every aspect of life: stimulating conversations around whether AI will take over human jobs, when and how it is ethically appropriate to use LLM tools, and how best to address the potential privacy and data security risks associated with using these tools.

Ethical and philosophical debates aside, organisations looking to deploy LLM-powered solutions to streamline and automate processes, or summarise and generate intelligence gained from massive data sets, will need to give due consideration to the risks involved.

Alongside creating internal policies and guidelines on how and when employees can use these tools, and for what, awareness of the current legal and regulatory landscape within which this technology currently operates will be key.

LLM – what is it, and how does it work?

LLM is a type of AI algorithm that uses deep learning techniques and large data sets to understand, summarise, generate, and predict new content.

Unlocking new possibilities in a range of fields, the potential applications for LLMs are infinite, encompassing everything from customer service chatbots through to anomaly detection and fraud analysis in financial services. It is also being used to speed up software development, generate complex legal summaries, provide insights for investment decisions, and create models that generate new insights on molecules, proteins, and DNA for pharmaceutical and life sciences researchers.

Clearly, LLMs are already proving to be a game-changer for multiple industry sectors and have a strong appeal for any organisation looking to increase efficiency and productivity. But there are a number of well-documented challenges that come with using the technology. These include dealing with issues like fabricated or inaccurate answers, model and output bias, intellectual property and copyright infringements, as well as data protection concerns.

Considering the risks

In terms of risk assessment and due diligence activities, some key questions will need to be asked around the sources from which data is taken to train and power LLM models, the licensing arrangements relating to that data, and how the data is sourced. Let’s take a look at why this is important.

LLMs can collect, store, and process any kind of data, including personal and other confidential data, at an unprecedented scale. This opens organisations up to some key challenges that arise from determining who is responsible for the legitimacy and quality of data used to train generative products.

Without knowing this, organisations could face significant legal or regulatory penalties if their models utilise personal data that has not been obtained using appropriate permissions. For example, personal information disclosed to LLMs could subsequently be used in additional ways that violate the expectations, or permissions, given by the people to whom this information explicitly relates.

Secondly, how does an organisation prevent or guardrail against the generation of problematic content such as observed biases, deep fakes, or outright discrimination? The responsibility of solution providers and organisations in terms of who is accountable for prevention, monitoring, and response needs to be clearly understood and documented.

When it comes to automated decision making or other outputs, who or what will gain access to the data or results generated by LLMs, and what are the implications of these systems in relation to cybersecurity risks?

Finally, organisations intending to use AI will need to think carefully about how they address privacy related obligations such as responding to the requests from data subjects to access or delete their data.

Regulatory compliance

LLMs are subject to the same regulatory and compliance frameworks as other AI technologies, but the speed at which they are becoming ubiquitous highlights some challenges in relation to compliance with existing data privacy and protection frameworks.

Let’s take a look at the key overarching legislation that organisations will need to be mindful of.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Encapsulating the crucial principles of data sovereignty – that digital data is subject to the laws and regulations of a country in which it is physically located, that the government has jurisdiction over it, and can enforce its data protection policies – GDPR sets out a number of key requirements and principles in relation to the processing of personal data. These include:

  • Consent – data subjects have a number of rights regarding their personal data, including the right to access, amend, or delete their data. How users exercise these rights in practice with relation to LLMs is a challenging proposition.
  • The right of individuals not to be subject to decisions that produce legal effects for the individual or significantly affects the individual based on automated processing. This means that while certain decisions may be supported by LLM, the final say will typically require human judgement.

Data regulators in Italy, France, Germany, and Ireland have already voiced concerns about whether large LLM models are compliant with GDPR rules. Earlier this year Italy’s data regulator took a stand, preventing ChatGPT from harnessing the personal information of millions of Italians for its training data (though access was reinstated within a month, after OpenAI successfully “addressed or clarified” the issues).

The UK Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDI Bill)

Currently under review by the House of Commons, the DPDI Bill aims to provide new clarity in relation to automated decision making and the safeguards that organisations will need to put in place when implementing AI. These include respecting the right of individuals to be informed about and to consent to such decisions, and to request and obtain human intervention in relation to such decisions. All of which is very much in line with current GDPR requirements.

Upcoming legislation and enforcement trends

European data protection authorities are already preparing to tackle complaints about GDPR violations resulting from the use of LLMs, ahead of the EU’s planned review of the effectiveness of GDPR in response to the rise of AI.

In France, the data protection watchdog, CNIL, has set out an action plan in relation to the deployment of generative AI systems, a move that could shape how other European regulators approach these technologies. Similarly, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has launched a task force that is focusing on enabling parity between the EU’s new AI Act and GDPR.

The EU’s AI Act, which was approved by the European Parliament in June 2023, sets out to regulate AI based on its potential to cause harm and is likely to put stricter obligations on the foundation models upon which LLM solutions are built. The regulation has already proposed a ban on certain AI uses, such as social scoring, and outlines the safeguards that will be needed for today’s rapidly evolving tech environment.

Meanwhile, the UK government has recently published its own AI whitepaper that sets out guidance on the use of AI that is designed to drive responsible innovation while maintaining public trust in this technology. The likelihood is that this will spawn further new legislation and regulation in the years ahead.

Evidently, the current flurry of data privacy and AI regulations means that organisations intending to deploy AI will need to navigate an increasingly complex legislative and regulatory landscape in the months to come and will need to ensure they stay fully abreast with developments. For the moment, however, the focus should be on ensuring compliance measures are in place so that data is collected and processed in line with current legal and regulatory requirements.

SHIMPAC® Systems: How can Local Authorities protect their budgets?

Local Authorities are facing greater cuts in their budget allocations, cuts that are amongst the largest in living memory. In one case, one county council has been asked to find £70 MILLION of budget savings.

As a result, products, services, and solutions that are budget friendly are more important than ever. However, it’s not only 2023’s budgets that local authorities will have their eye on, but also 2024, ’25, ‘26 and beyond.

Indeed, long-term solutions steeped in cost-effectiveness are becoming the holy grail for local authorities who continue to battle against seemingly ever decreasing budget allocations, creating a knock on effect for every service that they provide.

Maintaining highways is a constant challenge for governments and local authorities, and one of the most significant issues they face is ensuring the sustainability, durability and longevity of their infrastructure. That’s why products like SHIMPAC®’s ROADSHIMS® ironwork seating solutions are so important. In a closely linked additional challenge, the environmental impact of solutions is another huge focus for Local Authorities, as councils come under more and more pressure to meet CO2 reduction targets.

The ROADSHIMS® range from SHIMPAC® is a durable and cost-effective way to install ironwork seating. The product is designed to withstand the test of time, and some of the first installations of ROADSHIMS® are still in the ground without failing after over 30 years. This longevity is incredibly important in the world of highways, where long-term solutions are essential for budget savings – not only now, but for future budget savings too. Faced with tightening budgets, local authorities are taking notice.

When you factor in products that tick the box of vital environmental concerns along with being budget friendly, the field starts to narrow.

Highway infrastructure must be built to last, and this is where SHIMPAC® comes in. By providing a reliable and long-lasting solution, this product can help to reduce the cost of maintenance and repairs in the long term, freeing up budget for other projects and initiatives.

One of the main benefits of ROADSHIMS® is ease of installation. The product can be installed quickly and easily, which means that highways can be up and running in no time. This can help to minimise disruptions and keep traffic flowing smoothly.

Another benefit is durability. The product is designed to withstand heavy loads and harsh weather conditions, making it ideal for use in high-traffic areas. This durability ensures that the infrastructure remains safe and reliable for years to come, reducing the risk of accidents, damage to vehicles, and subsequently – damage claims against already cash strapped councils.

The installation and durability benefits in turn contribute to the meeting of key environmental and sustainability targets. Less vehicles needed on site upon installation, no need for year-on-year repair and a dramatic reduction in materials are all key results of utilising ROADSHIMS® for ironwork seating.

ROADSHIMS® are incredibly cost-effective. The products are designed to be low maintenance, which means that it can help to reduce the overall cost of maintaining highway infrastructure both in the short and long term. By reducing the need for repairs and maintenance, the product can help to save money in the long term, which is essential for budget-controlled authorities.

Short-term, the cost of a SHIMPAC® installation is 40% lower than an alternative ironwork seating option, yet also bucks the trend of a lower priced solution resulting in lower quality. Technical compliance and with numerous 35-year installation sites around the UK still intact and performing, it’s undoubtedly the case that this isn’t a pocket friendly option that will result in regret.

Barry Andrews, Technical Lead at SHIMPAC® told us:

It’s about a long-term approach, yet our system also has the all-important low installation cost.

“Rightly or wrongly, we know there will be a certain percentage of those looking for a solution will decide based purely on cost. So, to make sure we provide cost-effectiveness is vital, and we’re proud to say using SHIMPAC® Systems saves a minimum of 40% for the same ironwork seating installation using other compliant products.

“Additionally, SHIMPAC® Systems products are the only materials that have consistently been used to gain product assurance certification (HAPAS/PAS) covering ironwork installations.

“As our councils face more and more pressing budget issues, it’s systems like ours that can come to the rescue in the short-term, and keep more budgets intact for other local authority issues longer term, when our products are still performing.”

Schools share £18.6m decarbonisation makeover in Fusion21-backed government pilot

Seven UK schools have been selected to take part in an £18.6 million innovative Decarbonisation Pilot, led by the Department for Education (DfE).

The pilot will see schools benefit from new low carbon heating solutions, as well as improvements to the buildings fabric to make the school more thermal efficient, all procured through Fusion21 frameworks.

Energy bills and carbon emissions in the public and higher education sectors shows that schools and universities represent 36% of total UK public sector building emissions.

The transformational work to reduce carbon emissions to make those schools selected as part of the pilot, significantly more energy efficient has recently got underway.

Where necessary, the schools’ building fabric will be improved with upgrades ranging from new electrics, roofs and ceilings to new doors and windows amid a government drive to make educational buildings greener.

The contractors were appointed via Fusion21’s Decarbonisation and Heating & Renewables frameworks which ensures housing, local authority, education, blue light and health sectors maximise social value in contracts. All Fusion21 contractors are committed to ensuring social value is embedded into their work ranging from employing locally where possible to apprenticeships and community projects.

Schools involved in the pilot and the estimated makeover value:


Trust name School Contractor and Fusion21 framework used Estimated total value School location
Waterton Academy Trust West End Academy Kensa Contracting Ltd: Heating and Renewables Framework £3m Wakefield
The Rose Learning Trust Richmond Hill Primary Academy Kensa Contracting Ltd: Heating and Renewables Framework £3.4m Doncaster
North West Academies Trust Acton CofE Primary Academy GRAHAM Asset Management Ltd t/a GRAHAM: Decarbonisation Framework £2m Nantwich
North West Academies Trust Calveley Primary Academy GRAHAM Asset Management Ltd t/a GRAHAM: Decarbonisation Framework £1.8m Tarporley
BMAT Roydon Primary Academy Dodd Group (Midlands) Limited: Heating and Renewables Framework £2.1m Essex
Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership Peasedown St John Primary School Dodd Group (Midlands) Limited: Heating and Renewables Framework £3.4m Bath
St Mary’s Academy St Mary’s Academy Dodd Group (Midlands) Limited: Heating and Renewables Framework £2.9m Hitchin


Today, Oliver Mooney, Head of Category at Fusion21 said: “It is fantastic to have been involved in such an important Department for Education project and to support the schools who used our framework to appoint the contractors for these transformational, multi-million pound improvement works which will vastly improve the buildings, bring huge energy savings and carbon emission reductions and ensure pupils, teachers and parents are playing an important role in decarbonisation and Net Zero ambitions”.

The UK government is committed to climate action and has set out targets in its strategy to 2050. This project will support the drive for existing school buildings to be adapted and new ones designed adequately to respond to climate change and reduce emissions.

The pilot will provide a valuable opportunity to learn more about alternative greener heating solutions and to use the learnings to consider how this can be scaled up to accelerate decarbonisation in the future.

Research found that in 2019 schools alone were spending around £630m per annum on energy – with today’s figure expected to be much higher.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme will provide £1.425 billion of grant funding for public sector bodies to fund heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures, including schools over the financial years 2022-2023 to 2024-2025.

The Electric Vehicle Marketing Is Growing – Local Authorities Can Help It Grow Further

As the climate crisis continues to highlight the necessity of changing the way we live, work, travel and behave, the UK is on a journey towards creating and sustaining a low-carbon, low-emission transportation system. The move away from petrol and diesel vehicles and towards electric vehicles (EVs) is a fundamental transition for enabling this system. The EV market is already growing significantly; with over 810,000 fully electric cars on UK roads at the end of June 2023, more and more drivers are choosing to make the switch to EVs. Ahead of the ban of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2030, this trend is set to continue.

However, if the UK is to achieve a full transition to electric mobility in the coming decades, we need a strong, comprehensive, reliable and future-fit EV charging network that makes EV driving as easy and accessible as driving an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

Facilitating EV uptake with charging infrastructure

The current state of the UK’s charging infrastructure is one of the most pressing barriers to EV uptake. Whilst our charging network is expanding – there were 44,408 EV charge points across the UK at the end of June – a rapid build-out of charging infrastructure still remains integral. Charging an EV needs to be as simple as refuelling an ICE vehicle in order to encourage drivers to step away from the petrol/diesel market. But whilst pockets of the UK remain barren of charge points, public confidence in making the switch to electric mobility could decline.

This is especially the case for those without off-street parking and/or access to a home charger. Only 78% of homeowners have access to off-street parking; those without are dependent on the public charging network to charge their vehicles.

The role of local authorities

The Government has set a target of 300,000 charge points by 2030. The public sector has a vital role in encouraging EV uptake through working with charge point operators to install EV charging infrastructure in their local areas.

By supporting the achievement of this target, public sector bodies can help incentivise residents and visitors to switch to an EV. This has unparalleled benefits for communities and local areas.

A more environmentally friendly transport system means cleaner air and improved local public health

Transport is the UK’s largest emitting sector for greenhouse gases, accounting for 27% of the UK’s annual carbon emissions. Though the carbon footprint of an ICE vehicle is highly detrimental to the health of our planet and our people, EVs have a significantly lower environmental impact, and can therefore reduce our individual footprints each time we travel on the road

As of the network of charge points grows and the uptake of EVs subsequently increases, we will see lower pollution levels and cleaner air, which will contribute to improving public health and lowering our environmental impact when we travel.

Support for local authorities in turning EV charging strategies into reality

Financial support has been made available for local authorities as they plan for and roll out EV charging infrastructure. Schemes such as the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) Fund, the Workplace Charging Scheme and the Rapid Charging Fund, and public framework agreements including Kent County Services National Framework and the Crown Commercial Service’s Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Solutions Framework, are helping councils procure, finance and install EV charging infrastructure.

EV charging for Local Authorities with Mer

Mer is a European EV charging company, backed by Statkraft, Europe’s largest renewable energy generator. By bringing together our extensive expertise in renewables and electric mobility, Mer is on a mission to make EV charging simple, sustainable, and accessible to everyone.

We work with over 50 public sector bodies to bring scalable EV charging to hospitals, towns, cities, county councils and boroughs across the UK. With part to fully funded EV charging solutions available through public framework agreements, our focus on the customer experience, and quality over quantity ethos, Mer can provide future-fit, reliable EV charging to help support the transition to EVs in council areas.

We offer and promote the use of zero carbon, 100% renewable energy to our local authority customers.

Case Study: Durham County Council

Mer supported Durham County Council in transforming its EV charging infrastructure

In its Climate Change Strategy and Emergency Response Plan 2022-24, Durham County Council notes that transport in County Durham accounted for 34% of the county’s total carbon footprint in 2019 (excluding motorway traffic and trains on the East Coast Mainline). Emphasised in the plan is the importance of low carbon vehicles in reducing the County’s carbon footprint from transport.

In 2019, less than 50% of the Council’s EV charging infrastructure was working. As many rural communities were without charge points, residents were left without access to charging infrastructure in reasonable proximity to their homes. 40% of residents live in terraced houses with no access to off-street parking in the county, highlighting the need for a strong public charging network.

With funding from Innovate UK for the Scaling on Street Charging Infrastructure (SOSCI) project, Mer helped the Council bring EV charge points to 67 locations across the County, so that underserved communities could access reliable EV charging.

Durham County Council was awarded the 2022 Best EV Charging Project award from the Municipality Journal.

Find out more about our work with Durham County Council and other local authorities in our Best Practise Guide.

Start Your EV Charging Journey

The key to EV adoption is EV charging infrastructure. Join us on our mission to make electric mobility the new normal.

Find out more about how Mer can support local authorities and public sector bodies with the planning, roll-out and maintenance of EV charging infrastructure in our Best Practise Guide.



Electrifying The UK’s Transportation System – Public Sector Bodies Are Key To The EV Transition

As the UK moves towards the 2030 ban on the sale of new cars and vans, local authorities will play a key role in propelling the electric mobility transition and encouraging drivers to go electric.

With a target of at least 300,000 public charge points by 2023, the UK is advancing its electric transportation system and installing charging infrastructure across the country. Simultaneous to the installation of EV infrastructure is the steep growth of the UK’s EV market, yet there are still many drivers who are yet to turn their backs on petrol/diesel vehicles and make the switch to electric.

Local authorities are fundamental to the EV transition. Here are three ways the public sector can incentivise the shift to electric mobility and increase the possibility of making EV driving the driving form of transportation in the UK.

Install Future-Fit, Accessible EV Charge Points At The Right Locations

If drivers observe a lack of public charge points in their local areas, they may be reluctant to switching to an EV when petrol/diesel refuel remains easily accessible in both urban and rural areas of the UK. Local authorities can increase the public EV charging provision in their boroughs to highlight how easy driving an EV can be with reliable EV charging.

Where And What To Install?

Quality over quantity is a key mindset local authorities should follow. This applies to both location and charger type.

Coverage of charge points should take care not to leave wide areas vacant of charge points, and instead ensure a distribution of charging infrastructure that makes it convenient for residents and visitors to charge wherever they live and work. These decisions can be driven and informed by the data – local authorities can enquire with residents through surveys, polls and focus groups to gain an evidenced-based picture of where demand for charging is high.

Drivers require different types of EV charging depending on where they are and what they are doing. Whilst high-powered, rapid/ultra-rapid charging suits drivers who are making short stops to grab a coffee or use the restroom, a slower charge over several hours may suit drivers who are staying in a destination for a longer period of time. With these different types of charging come different power demands, too. Rather than aiming to install a certain number of chargers, local authorities should consider the power capacity available at any given site and what type of charging would be most appropriate.

Join The EV Revolution

The UK Government has recognised the importance of shared accountability when it comes to electric transportation, as is demonstrated through their target of ensuring 100% of central government cars and vans are to be fully zero emission by 2027.

Setting a precedent amongst residents by investing in an all-electric council fleet, and providing a salary sacrifice scheme and workplace charging for council employees, will allow local authorities to evidence their support for the EV revolution and provide residents with anecdotal case studies and insights to convey the experience of driving an EV. This will add authenticity to public sector support of EV driving.

Operating an electric fleet and encouraging council employees to drive electric will provide an opportunity for local authorities to test their infrastructure in the field, and subsequently make improvements and developments. This builds into the need for continuous evaluation of local charge point networks, as driver demand grows, infrastructure maintenance becomes necessary and charging sites require expansion, to help support the EV transition in the coming years.

Shout About The Benefits Of Driving Electric

There are many reasons why drivers are switching to electric, from reducing their carbon footprint and improving air pollution for future generations to a smoother driving experience and moving with the times as the EV transition develops.

Councils can encourage more drivers to switch to an EV by sharing the benefits to individuals, communities and indeed the country as a whole.

This also includes making EV driving visible in the community by informing drivers where they can find charge points, and challenging misconceptions surrounding driving an EV.

Start Your EV Charging Journey With Mer

Mer is a European charging company owned by Statkraft, Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy. Mer provides trusted and reliable EV charging infrastructure to public sector bodies across the county, combining over 10 years of experience in the electric vehicle industry with its passion for making electric mobility accessible for all.

Mer supports over 50 public sector bodies across the UK in bringing EV charging to their corners of the country. Counting New Forest District Council, Durham County Council, Eastleigh Borough Council and many more as clients, Mer’s solutions are helping councils reach key sustainability targets.

Mer’s Public EV Best Practice Charging Infrastructure Guide includes expert advice on EV charging for local authorities, including case studies and learnings from Mer’s work with its public sector partners.

Guide for the Public Sector:



Negotiation, mind games and guessing – a myth exploded

Andy Archibald, Scotwork UK

By Andy Archibald, Senior Consultant at Scotwork UK

It has been a long time coming but next year will mark a significant change in the way that the public sector buys in a whole host of situations.

Transforming Public Procurement is designed to simplify and modernise the way procurement and commercial teams negotiate, ultimately providing more freedom to generate different (and hopefully better) outcomes.

The changes will create opportunities and challenges for negotiators in the public sector, including, among many, the critical decision about what information is disclosed and when.

Information in negotiations is critical – when negotiating, thinking about how to manage expectations by sharing information, while at the same time gathering useful information from the other parties to help later in the process, is a core skill.

For almost 50 years, Scotwork have been negotiation consultants and trainers for many of the world’s leading organisations. During this time, we have been gathering data on the key capabilities of organisations and one of the key insights we can share is that information is a real source of power… but is rarely used well.

This has been ratified by my own experience of working in the public sector and consulting with many clients’ negotiators.

Years ago, I heard a story about a wannabe traveller walking into a travel agent shop.

“Good afternoon. How might I help you” began the travel agent.

“I want to book a holiday” responded the traveller.

“Great!” says the travel agent. “Where would you like to go?”

“Guess” the traveller instructs the travel agent.

“I beg your pardon?” replied the confused travel agent.

“I want you to guess!” confirmed the traveller.

This story may or may not have actually happened. But I see this happen all the time in negotiations, where negotiators on both sides of the table withhold crucial information (i.e. what they want), hoping that the other side will somehow guess.

Negotiators hold on to information for typically two reasons – it’s too difficult to say or they believe holding on to information gives them more power and it will lead to a better outcome.

The first reason is understandable, because negotiations can be uncomfortable and often we may need to ‘feel’ our way into it and figure out what is possible. But the second is a stretch, to say the least.

To give an example, in a recent negotiation I was advising on, the buyer negotiating with a supplier had a situation where the primary objective was to secure a 30% saving on an invoice as well as a favourable price going forward on a longer-term agreement with a significant volume. There were multiple ways in which an agreement could have been reached but crucial to the outcome was the buyer telling the seller specifically what they wanted.

But the buyer did the opposite, withholding what they wanted and forcing the seller to guess. With each guess, the seller did move incrementally towards what the buyer wanted but at a snail’s pace.

“They (the sellers) are not giving us what we want!” said the buyer when I asked why progress was so slow.

I probed further, ultimately asking if the buyer had told the seller what they wanted.

“No, of course not. They might give us more!”

That might be right and the buyer might get more than what they want if they make the seller guess. And who knows, maybe I’ll score the winning goal in a World Cup final. But probably not. The negotiation did, however, achieve one thing, and that was a lot of wasted time on both sides.

Fortunately, this was a simulated negotiation with a public sector client upskilling their procurement team and it therefore gave me a unique opportunity to also get the seller’s perspective. Unsurprisingly, they confirmed they would never have guessed the buyer needed a 30% discount and had instead just thought the buyer wanted a slightly better deal. And while it didn’t guarantee the seller would have given the buyer everything they wanted, they would have considered it had it been shared early on in the negotiation and there was a credible reason why (i.e. more than just wanting a better deal).

Many will explain away this behaviour by saying they’d never do the same in the real world. But that’s not true. Negotiators behave the exact same way in the real world as they do in a classroom, forcing the other side to guess what they want.

Negotiation does not involve mind reading, and asking the other side to guess your preferred outcome rarely has the desired effect. The first part of the negotiation puzzle is to be clear on what you want and tell your counterpart(s) what it is and why.

It may not guarantee you get it, but it sets up the negotiated outcome in the right way.

For further information, please visit

South Kesteven District Council recognised as a great place to work

SKDC HR team

South Kesteven District Council (SKDC) has been named as a finalist in two categories of a national awards scheme that highlights great places to work.

The Personnel Today Awards 2023 recognise excellence in Human Resources and Learning and Development and SKDC is a national finalist for Employee Experience and Excellence in Public Service HR.

The judges were looking for examples of innovation and achievement; teamwork; leadership; and effective use of resources, that bring tangible benefits.

Cllr Rhea Rayside, SKDC’s Cabinet Member for People and Communities, said: “I am proud to be part of a Council that places its people at the forefront of the organisation.

“We firmly believe that our success as a Council is intrinsically linked to the wellbeing and development of our employees. Our engaged and motivated teams not only enhance the quality of our services but also reinforce the strong bond we have with the community we serve.”

Head of HR at the Council, Fran Beckitt, said: “Being shortlisted for these awards is great recognition of the focus we have had on building a great place to work.

“Across the Council we have dedicated teams and leaders who strive to create an inclusive and supportive environment for our staff and, as such, we have seen incredible developments in our working environment, wellbeing provision and employee experience.”

The overall winners will be announced in November.

Matrix Secures Lewisham and Southwark Councils confirming their expansion in the London area

Matrix, a leading provider of comprehensive workforce solutions, is delighted to announce its successful bid for both Lewisham and Southwark Councils, following an extensive three-month tender process. The recent victories underscore Matrix’s commitment to expanding its presence in the Southeast London region and strengthening its position as a trusted partner for local government organisations.

Recognising the need to fill vacant council roles with local talent, Southwark Council has partnered with Matrix to target qualified candidates for administrative vacancies as part of their Southwark Works employability initiative. This collaboration aims to bridge the gap between job seekers and opportunities within the council, fostering economic growth and empowerment within the community.

The separate pitches presented to each council showcased Matrix’s unrivalled expertise in providing tailored solutions to meet their specific requirements. Southwark Council, which currently allocates £41 million to temporary labour, was particularly impressed by Matrix’s talent pool and Milestone solutions.

Milestone, one of Matrix’s flagship offerings, combines an intuitive technology platform with specialised expertise in various sectors. This unique approach enables clients to design customised solutions that maximize the impact of public funding, leading to improved outcomes for the community.

Ben Plant, HR director at Southwark Council, expressed his satisfaction with Matrix’s commitment to social value in their pitch, stating, “Social Value is high on the agenda at Southwark Council, and Matrix delivered a commitment to this in their pitch. The fact that Matrix developed a bespoke Social Value action plan that aligned perfectly with our agenda impressed the team.”

Courtney Richards, at Lewisham Council, highlighted Matrix’s supply chain flexibility as a key factor in their decision, emphasising the benefits of retaining long-term incumbent agreements. This strategic advantage offered by Matrix ensures a seamless transition while delivering effective solutions tailored to the unique needs of Lewisham Council.

Matrix is proud to have been selected by Lewisham and Southwark Councils as their trusted partner in driving positive change within their communities. These partnerships exemplify Matrix’s ongoing commitment to providing innovative workforce solutions that drive economic growth, social value, and efficiency for local government organisations.

Procurement experts Fusion21 turns 21: How a step into the unknown became a route to social value success

Dave Neilson – Chief Executive at Fusion21

Real positive change, changes real lives.

This year, Fusion21 is marking its 21st anniversary and as the co-founder and Chief Executive I am so proud of what our team of procurement and social value specialists have achieved through work with our members, suppliers and partners.

Formed in 2002 by the vision of seven social housing landlords, we were stepping into unknown territory. Nobody had done anything like this before.

But what were our drivers? Let’s take a step back to late 2001 – the start of the Decent Homes programme. There were concerns about skills shortages, and cost inflation as the marketplace would be flooded with housing associations competing for the same contractors. That defined our approach. Cost efficiency and creating jobs became our compasses, directing us towards our destination. We wanted to construct a legacy of lasting impact, and for it to be more than just a construction exercise.

And that was how we became the first organisation to specialise in frameworks with a social value approach. We ensure the community benefits from projects members procure from us – be that through jobs, apprenticeships, or training.

Our name, Fusion21, came from the fusion of seven Housing Providers, and 21 signified 21st century thinking. With a mission to create social value in procurement, we created a community of like-minded individuals who are committed to creating positive change in our industry.

To date, we have delivered more than £155 million in social impact value and created more than 10,948 employment outcomes. Last year alone, we completed £350 million worth of projects last year alone and we already have £1.2 billion worth of projects committed over the next four years.

And with more than 1,000 members now, with projects spanning the UK, it’s clear that our collective impact is only set to grow. Since 2002, we have secured £348 million efficiency savings and completed 7,817 procurement projects.

We now work in sectors outside of housing including education and health. But we started in housing, and we’re immensely proud of the work we’re continuing to deliver with our members. We’ll once again have a big presence at the HOMES UK conference in November where we’ll share the latest insights from highly regarded thought leaders in the sector.

Over the years, we have worked closely with the government and been involved in initiatives that have led to policy change and regulation, linking procurement to social values in a way that nobody has done before.

Looking to the future, there are new opportunities that we are excited about. One example is the Youth Investment Fund (YIF). Last year, we were appointed as the YIF procurement partner, and are supporting Social Investment Business to deliver grant funding of more than £300 million.

I am proud of what we have achieved so far, but we are not done yet. We will continue to grow, evolve and innovate. Our mission remains the same: to procure solutions that not only save money but create jobs and training opportunities, and have a positive impact on society. Over the next five years, the Fusion21 Foundation will come to the fore as a force that will help us to really continue to make a difference in the world of procurement and social value.

So, to our people – and that’s our staff, our members, our suppliers and our partners – I say congratulations on our achievements to date. Together, we have truly set the standard for delivering ‘Procurement with Purpose’, creating social value you can see. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for us.

Dave Neilson, Chief Executive at Fusion21

Building a Practical Cyber Security Risk Awareness Strategy

Nick Denning, CEO of IT consultancy Diegesis and veteran of multiple public sector IT transformation projects shares his thoughts with GPSJ on what makes a successful risk awareness strategy

Risk management involves identifying, assessing, mitigating, and planning for potential events that could impact a business. This article explores risk management in practice and the priorities for a successful cyber risk awareness strategy.

It emphasizes the dynamic nature of cyber risks and the need for constant vigilance to mitigate risks.

Risk Management in practice

A practical example of risk management is pouring concrete for building foundations. If more rain falls within 24 hours the foundations may be ruined. After identifying the risk, we need to assess the likelihood and impact including costs and delays.

Mitigation activities might include:

  1. Pay for advanced weather forecasting.
  2. Cost of a protective trench for effective drainage.
  3. Obtain insurance costs/lead times.

Contingency planning might identify the cost and resources needed to dig out the foundations and have them ready for a re-pour. This is practical risk management based on an informed decision to deliver the best outcomes for the project.

The difference between Operational and Project Risk

Operational risks are those which affect an organisation carrying out its regular business. Frequency risks are expected to occur on a regular basis and can be predicted. Catastrophe risks are unexpected and might happen only once every 20 years.

Project risks relate to a plan for a particular outcome: external risks might be a new competitor, while delivery risks might be completing the tasks on time, within budget and to the specification.  A Monte Carlo simulation can predict the aggregated risk across all tasks in the project and show which mitigation and contingency tasks may reduce the overall cost.

Cyber Security Risk is an Operational Risk issue

Cyber security risk is an operational risk issue and applicable to projects. Any technology being used or delivered by a project must be designed with security in mind and comply with standards.

An organisation’s defence needs to be balanced so that a major investment in one area is not circumvented by weaknesses in other areas. It also needs commitment at a senior/board level to ensure it is taken seriously across the organisation.

Cyber Security Risk Awareness Strategy

There are significant differences in cyber risks. In traditional risk management, risks tend to change slowly over time. In the cyber world the landscape is far more dynamic.

Data stored by an organisation or department is attractive to criminals. New technology can introduce fresh vulnerabilities to the data. This necessitates a rigorous approach to cyber risk assessment. Potentially every change, patch or upgrade needs to be risk assessed and authorised by the organisation ideally via a Change Advisory Board.

A cyber risk management strategy should acknowledge that some attacks will be successful.  Creating multiple layers of protection with monitoring and alerts can detect a successful attack on one layer to enact contingency plans, defeating the overall attack before the next layer is penetrated.

Effective Risk Awareness

We need to ensure that cyber security risk is constantly in people’s minds and that they are regularly reminded how to recognise threats.

An effective cyber risk awareness strategy needs to include:

  1. Onboarding training including topics in the organisation’s security policy in sections by job function.
  2. Regular exercises to verify staff have understood training and follow policies, with reminders of the consequences.
  3. These exercises need to be interesting and made relevant to each individual.
  4. Re-assessments to the probability/size of impacts need to be communicated when there is a heightened risk level.
  5. Engage everyone to report attacks or near misses to update the threat level and to enable immediate action.
  6. Staff must understand it’s their obligation to report suspected attacks without blame.

The biggest risk is complacency in staff not appreciating the probability of a risk affecting them.

Characteristics of poor risk awareness

The tell-tale signs of a poor risk awareness strategy include:

  • A policy ignored, creating false security
  • No method of detecting attacks
  • No way of disseminating information
  • No effective security officer responding and taking action.
  • No support systems
  • No security assessment process as part of procurement
  • Poor unrefreshed training
  • No testing of users on their training.

Priorities for a Successful Risk Awareness Strategy

The Director of Security must be able to monitor and audit policy compliance and take action if required.

To increase protection, create a ‘White List’ of approved software products/apps. Any other software must be removed. To tackle compliance challenges, use Vulnerability Assessment tools to detect and remove or disable software that is non-compliant, outdated or containing new vulnerabilities.

Deploy a system administration tool enabling administrators to remove the unauthorised software remotely. Taking concrete action makes it evident to employees that failure to follow the policies is unacceptable and that a technology solution will be monitoring and maintaining a secure environment.

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