Lord Taylor has given his backing to a controversial project to save councils £85m on waste contracts by pooling their buying power, as the deadline to submit tenders was delayed.
The waste minister said he was “very impressed” by the work done by council support organisation Improvement & Efficiency South East (IESE) which is developing a £1.7bn waste framework.
His backing follows consultants raising doubts about the project’s ability to make its targeted savings.
“IESE offers local authorities an opportunity of ways in which they can save considerable expenditure by working more efficiently,” Lord Taylor told a Local Government Association conference last week.
The minister also praised the Dorset Waste Partnership, which saved £1.4m in 2011-12 by running a joint service for five of the seven Dorset councils. It has since signed up another council.
Some 24 suppliers were due to submit tenders to IESE by 7 February but the deadline has been put back to Monday 13 February.
IESE director of waste and resources David Greenfield welcomed Lord Taylor’s backing.
“Efficiency savings of 10-15% are on offer, so we are pleased with the level of interest in the framework,” he added.
Consultancy WYG had said the fees being charged were “higher than the current market rate” and that contractors also faced significant costs (MRW 20 Jan).
IESE insisted the framework would lead to savings for councils, and that suppliers’ costs would be fair and sustainable.