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A strategic partner

We’re experts in public sector procurement. We’ve a reputation for finding efficiencies and negotiating value for money contracts. But there’s more to procurement than numbers. At one source, it’s about building effective strategic relationships – with you and suppliers – that deliver for residents, communities and the environment.

As part of one of the UK’s leading public sector shared services, we have greater insights into the true value, risk and complexity and importance of the work you do. Plus, there are our other in-house services and specialists to consider. From Legal and Governance to Asset Management; Finance and HR to OD, Payroll, ICT, Enforcement and Health & Safety – if we can’t provide the service ourselves, we know people who can.

This gives us the buying power to give our clients more leverage when negotiating contracts. And that means freeing up vital funds you can invest elsewhere, whether you’re an established council, or a smaller local authority looking to buy more effectively. But more than that: our systemised approach to procurement fosters simplified methods. And our effective governance, eye for innovation and wealth of contacts are focused not just on meeting your financial goals, but enhancing the quality of your procurement activity.

We’ve a passion for technology that means we also look for innovations that increase transparency while reducing admin and bureaucracy. For example, our procurement applications can link into ERP systems, and give you detailed activity alerts and well as comprehensive savings, sustainability and social value reports and management information. And beyond all of this; because we put people before profit, as a team we’re often better value than commercial procurement agencies too.

We can implement our unique procurement systems to manage your requirements end-to-end – identifying contracts about to expire, developing annual procurement plans, advising on contracts and services, and working with the services themselves to maximise outcomes. Importantly, we act as that all-important safety net, ensuring all the key issues are considered .

Whether the brief is a new asset, regeneration or property vision, healthcare provision, social agency or vital community service – we’ll work at pace to discover your unique needs together, before finding the solution that works for everyone.

  • Community wealth building and social value

    We can develop social value strategies that support your local economy. In every case, we look at the macro issues of your community – financial, social and environmental – as well as the procurement deliverables. Then by balancing external growth and investment with local business, local employment, resident and volunteer options – we can optimise the benefits, and tailor activities to support your corporate objectives.

  • Tendering and contract management

    Our focus is always on delivering the best overall value. As extensions of your organisation, suppliers are pivotal partners – and critical to success. So, with a deep knowledge of regulation and the people who can deliver for you, we add value by handling the whole process or supporting certain phases – from business case to contract award and ongoing contract management.

  • Supplier management

    We bring a commercial approach to public sector supplier relationships – after all, suppliers are often commercial companies. Critically, our focus is on improving relationships, supplier performance and innovation. That usually starts with comprehensive onboarding. We then look to improve standards with suppliers as genuine partners focused on delivering the best possible outcomes.

  • Category strategies

    As well as supporting individual projects, we add insight and innovation to category-wide activities. Internally, this broader approach ensures that, as spend and service categories are addressed, your resources are better managed, and performance improves. Plus, a more in-depth review of your needs and spending gives us more leverage with the market.

  • Policy and governance

    Our innovative systems ensure that policy and governance is implemented in tandem with developing your Annual Procurement Plan. As one of the public sector’s largest shared services, we have cross-discipline knowledge of the legal, finance and other challenges you face too. Whatever the service you’re engaging, our processes result in tenders and partners that reflect your needs, and deliver the best value for money and improved outcomes.

  • Routes to market

    We have experience of open and restricted procurement procedures – as well as the more recent competitive procedure with negotiation (CPN), competitive dialogue (CD) and innovation partnership (IP) routes to market. We are keeping abreast of any Brexit related changes. And, importantly, we’ll design a path that works best for every challenge: where we can not only support during the initial strategy, but add value to your ongoing management of contracts and suppliers.

  • Savings generation

    Cheaper doesn’t always mean better. But we have a reputation for supporting value-for-money public services. Sometimes, it’s simply a renegotiation. But increasingly, it’s more about finding synergies in your portfolio of services, and advising on new approaches to service and planned procurements. With qualified change managers and a range of public sector service specialists, we bring sound thinking to every challenge.

Case studies

With so many different types of procurement challenges, our expertise spans the full range of public sector disciplines. Get in touch to learn more about what we can do for you.

Apprenticeships Talent Hub

Our Talent Hub helps Havering and Newham councils maximise the Apprenticeships Levy by identifying skills gaps, improving diversity and creating more effective programmes.

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Case Study
Apprenticeships Talent Hub

Our Talent Hub helps Havering and Newham councils maximise the Apprenticeships Levy by identifying skills gaps, improving diversity and creating more effective programmes.

Any organisation whose annual salary bill tops £3m has to pay the 0.5% Apprenticeships Levy. The money is then topped up by government and put into a fund for employers to invest in apprentices’ training over the next 24 months.

Any funds that aren’t spent over those two years are reclaimed by HMRC. So it’s vital that Havering and Newham Councils get the most for the £1m+ they put in their funds each year. Our solution? A Talent Hub that maximises their apprenticeship schemes’ reach and impact.

A dedicated central team

In practice, the team behind the Talent Hub work with line managers and training providers to create programmes that fill skills gaps at each Council – not just for more junior roles, but higher and degree-level apprenticeships.

They make sure the door’s open to everyone – internal and external applicants from all backgrounds, including care leavers and young people living in poverty. And finally, they oversee the programme, ensuring the apprentices get the high-quality learning to excel.

A conveyor belt of success stories

The first Talent Hub-led programmes recruited five degree-level Social Workers for Havering and Newham. They’re all now in hard-to-fill permanent roles, and studying towards their Level 6 Social Worker Apprenticeship.

More recently, the team helped four people already at Havering start Building Control degree apprenticeships, and a further five people – two existing and three new hires – join the Level 7 Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship, a particularly tough area to recruit for. And in terms of softer skills, six Newham managers are taking the Emerging Leaders programme run by SOLACE – experts in public sector senior leadership.

Put together, the future’s looking very bright for Newham and Havering’s apprenticeships. The Talent Hub is a unique solution that’s making great strides in not only ensuring the Levy is good value for money for both Councils – but delivering the right people, with the right skills.

Helping Newham use wellbeing to fight COVID

The once-in-a-generation challenge of COVID-19 has shone a light on the importance of employee wellbeing. Our measures ensured everyone at Newham had the support they needed and deserved.

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Case Study
Helping Newham use wellbeing to fight COVID

The once-in-a-generation challenge of COVID-19 has shone a light on the importance of employee wellbeing. Our measures ensured everyone at Newham had the support they needed and deserved.

Our holistic wellbeing programme had been a core part of our portfolio of services for a few years. As well as our own initiatives, it was built on best practices developed by organisations as diverse as: NHS and Public Health organisations, Deloitte and our own Health Champions Network.

Importantly, we looked at the issue from every angle – we built awareness, turned understanding into action, and provided support and flexibility. We laid the path for a wellbeing journey.


As the pandemic evolved, we didn’t need to read the endless newspaper articles to know the people in our care would likely need the programme in greater numbers. We saw how stressful it was navigating through such uncertain times: fatigue, fear, the repetitiveness of Zoom call after Zoom call, and the gap between logging off and logging on feeling shorter by the day.

So, rather than reacting as events progressed, we set about learning how we could help Newham’s people through the crisis.

Responding at speed

Our first act was to set up a Wellbeing Subgroup of our most respected professionals. They looked at Newham’s wellbeing services, and what people would need during the pandemic – and highlighted the gaps.

Throughout, the team was mindful of the practicalities. Was a solution worthwhile? Is it being delivered in the right from? Would it be useful for people working from home, on critical frontline services, continuing in their normal place of work and those needing to shield?

A comprehensive approach

Naturally, mental health support was a key priority. We created the Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) support network, made up of employees who could be ‘booked’ for 30-minute private chats. We also added extra layers to the existing Employee Assistance Programme, including Group Resilience – helping entire families – and Bereavement Support.

All the details were on the intranet, and we drip fed communications, so everyone knew there was help if they needed it.

As time went on, specific services got in touch for advice. One conversation led to our ‘Wellbeing Conversations – A conversation worth having’ training module for Newham’s Children Social Work managers.

And taking a step further, we went on to work with CMT and psychologist and restorative wellbeing specialists to create our ‘Time to Talk’ initiative, where internal volunteers support colleagues by making the time to sit down with them and have honest wellbeing conversations.

Elsewhere, we delivered targeted sessions for Hub Managers feeling the strain of having such a responsibility for their community. We created and ran wellbeing other audience-specific workshops in person and over Zoom – sometimes for hundreds of people at a time, at other times for small leadership teams.

Keeping things normal

The annual staff survey in June 2020 was the perfect opportunity for us to understand how people were coping, what support was working, and what services were still perhaps missing.

One thing became abundantly clear: people needed hope. Everyone took great pride in supporting councils, communities and residents. But they needed to know there was a long-term plan, and that there were still things to celebrate.

This tied in well with our work on the Council’s staff benefits site, which also launched that June. While it was held virtually, Newham’s staff awards were also a roaring success. And to prove the new normal was a lot like the old normal, we brought to life an initiative we floated in 2019 – a cross-Council Wellbeing Week, with events ranging from Dealing with Stress and Anxiety in Difficult Times, to Let’s Talk About Menopause.

Building wellbeing that lasts

One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that organisations with innovative and creative HR &OD teams have created stronger bonds with their people.

With a detailed and targeted approach to wellbeing, we ramped up Newham’s wellbeing strategy to deliver good value, cost-effective initiatives in trying circumstances. And these initiatives are going further than simply solving practical symptoms of any issues.

They’re giving people the opportunity to have real conversations about topics that used to be taboo, such as mental health. They’re helping us connect virtually and metaphorically more than ever. And they’re strengthening people’s resilience and agility – to everyone’s benefit.

We have some of the most innovative and respected public sector shared services in the UK.

Your challenges are unique – but our experience makes us the perfect people to find the perfect solution. What’s more: we only work with the public sector. We share your passion for the communities you serve.