Councils across the UK are putting more emphasis on climate change initiatives, ensuring it is a key focus behind any decision making when implementing or improving local services. By moving towards digital solutions to improve services and commissioning activities, local authorities are focusing on quality products that are also sustainable and provide a greener experience for the local area. But can commissioning technology help to reach long term climate goals?
In response to initial rising concerns about the impact of climate change in 2008, the UK Government created the Climate Change Act as a long-term approach to cut greenhouse gases and carbon emissions.
Scientists have warned of the devastating impact if governments and the public fail to take action; sea levels will continue to rise while heatwaves, wildfires and flooding are all becoming more life threatening and frequent. With a focus on taking a more direct approach, the government amended the Climate Change Act in 2019 to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050. This means “achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.” (Institute of Government)
As awareness of climate change grows around the world, more countries are pledging to reduce their impact and band together to develop joint goals and initiatives. Local authorities are no different.
The Climate Change Act – among other pledges such as The Green Deal, UN sustainable development goals, and multiple greener housing and transportation targets – outlines legal frameworks and guides for the government to lead change from all levels including local authority and public. This has encouraged a wider conversation regarding climate change policies and intervention, so that it becomes a key element behind any decision making.
Climate change is, therefore, now a strong focus for local authorities across the UK to ensure targets are reached and meaningful sustainable solutions are put in place within all services including commissioning. Councils are vital to leading these changes as they understand the unique requirements of their local communities and the challenges of implementing climate change policies in their areas.
Councillor James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association says “Councils are a unique and powerful partner in achieving net zero, able to impact on more than a third of all emissions from villages, towns and cities, such as through housing, transport and the natural environment.”
In 2021 the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) reported 37% of councils had declared a climate emergency. Interestingly, of the 211 respondents, only 23% of Councils with annual budgets below £250,000 declared a climate and/or climate & biological emergency, suggesting “that smaller councils feel there is less they can do.” This indicates that there is a want and need for change however, funding restrictions are slowing these activities.
The Local Government Association’s climate change survey also concludes that many local authorities, regardless of size or budget, are struggling against a funding barrier (93%) but this has led to 73% of councils developing partnerships with other local authorities to combat climate change and work on joint initiatives.
Funding restraints often result in councils relying on less sustainable commissioning methods being implemented to ensure solutions are within budget. Commissioning technology can be seen as a high cost to implement, especially for councils with smaller budgets. However, local authorities using these solutions will see tangible cost savings within the first year of use, along with long-term cost savings, improvements to service and greener methods. All of these combined can allow councils to reach and exceed their overall goals and targets.
So how can local authorities benefit from greener solutions without compromising on quality or increasing spend when improving commissioning and procurement?
Councils need to start by focusing on sustainable solutions that resolve key challenges or services which they are already trying to improve and invest in. This ensures any climate change initiatives implemented are supporting current goals, meaning they are not only cost effective, but provide long term benefits for reducing climate impact too.
By building these into an overall strategy, local authorities can focus on what really matters. Whether that is sourcing sustainable transport providers or ensuring landlords comply with greener requirements such as eco-energy friendly homes – councils do not need to compromise between cost of service or climate change targets.
BCG revealed that businesses can cut carbon emissions simply by switching to a technology solution. By building processes, data transfer, communications and integrating other technologies, councils rely less on physical methods which have a higher carbon input such as paper usage, electricity usage, travel cost or postage.
Cloud based solutions can also provide travel savings, for instance, by implementing adam technology users can securely access the platform from any location, reducing time traveling to sites for onboarding or compliance checks.
According to the ‘Councillor workbook: The pathway to net zero’, the top 3 biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions is transport, energy supply and homes. By focusing on sustainable change as part of the commissioning process, councils are presented with a big opportunity to be more environmentally focused for every individual as soon as
they start using a service.
The adam product can ensure client commissioning requirements are built into the platform which gives a clearer view of the market to implement further sustainable change and initiatives.
In turn, setting sustainable requirements for each provider creates a higher quality marketplace and encourages suppliers to be more eco-friendly and develop continued improvements.
Commissioning technology facilitates a better view of the available marketplace while streamlining your processes to save staff time and costs. It also allows councils to identify further areas for improvement, for instance, highlighting too many routes in use for home-to-school transport or discovering a special education needs (SEN) transport provider who uses electric vehicles at a cheaper cost compared to a diesel provider. These elements combined can significantly reduce the impact of transport emissions quickly and efficiently.
Furthermore, the adam platform provides communication tools which help to build a better relationship between local authorities and providers to collaborate for continued change.
Commissioning technology, like the adam platform, can support local authorities with a full end-to-end service, from onboarding, contract management to payment processing. These solutions cut down on the number of products and manual tasks staff are undertaking, reducing the number of resources used and therefore lowering your carbon footprint.
However, sometimes it is not possible to use a single solution and councils require the use of multiple systems. For these instances make sure the systems can seamlessly interact and securely transfer data.
Also consider if another tool or system already in use within a different commissioning department could be adapted to fit your service needs. The adam platform can be tailored to meet the needs of different services such as social care, healthcare, transport and housing. Milton Keynes Council had great success using the adam social care solution for Domiciliary Care, after implementing the adam transport technology.
Climate change is a worldwide priority and as such, businesses across the country are also focused on sustainable change. It’s important to partner with a commissioning business who supports and embraces the same values as the local authority.
At adam, we are committed to developing a culture of environmental awareness throughout our business operations which we have embedded into our staff values. From recycling practices, managing, purchasing and travel, we strive to create a sustainable environment and lower our carbon footprint.