We spend around £1.1 billion annually on a wide range of civil engineering works, goods and services with over 5,000 regional, national and international suppliers. Purchased items can range from a water meter to a new water treatment works!
This purchasing power gives us a great opportunity to encourage our supply chain to adopt an enlightened approach to doing business, especially around environmental and social sustainability.
We ensure our suppliers and buyers understand our values, which range from environmental considerations such as reducing waste to landfill and carbon emissions, to humanitarian priorities such as fair treatment of employees and protecting human rights.
In return, we treat our suppliers as valued partners, paying them promptly, giving them on-going support and providing opportunities for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to bid for work.
Our dedicated supply chain teams help us achieve our aims by closely monitoring sustainability performance.
Our approach includes:
A sustainable supply chain charter: setting out the standards we expect from our suppliers, and those they can expect from us in return. The charter covers environmental elements, such as reducing waste to landfill energy usage and carbon emissions, using recycled materials; health and safety standards and social priorities, such as fair treatment for employees. Over 76 per cent of our annual spend is with suppliers who have signed up to the charter. You can view the charter here.
Encouraging a carbon commitment: in partnership with other utility companies and Achilles Information Ltd, we have developed a carbon measurement and reporting scheme to help suppliers measure, reduce and certify their carbon footprint. Under the scheme, suppliers receive independent validation and certification through the Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme, (CEMARS) which provides credibility and enhances their reputation. 150 UU suppliers are successfully measuring, managing and reducing their carbon footprint via this scheme, including ourselves.
Since we began scoring suppliers’ environmental performance in 2010/11, we have seen a year on year increase, from 45 per cent of our assessed suppliers performing ‘satisfactorily’ up to 85 per cent.
Guidance and Support: Our supply chain website details what we buy, the selection of suppliers, how to win new business and how to get paid on time, along with useful information and supporting links.
External Benchmarking: we measure our performance against UK sustainable procurement best practice models, such as British Standard for Sustainable Procurement and (BS8903) and international standards, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, where last year we once again achieved a best in sector score.
We were also delighted to receive a Big Tick re-accreditation from Business in the Community for the sixth consecutive year, underling our continuing responsible approach to supply chain management.
Prompt payment: paying suppliers in a timely manner is important, especially in the current economic climate. Last year more than 91per cent of supplier invoices were paid on time (i.e. to agreed terms in the contract) and in 2013/14 we have been able to improve this performance again with 97 per cent of invoices now paid on time.
We are signed up to the Prompt Payment Code and through our Sustainable Supply Chain Charter we encourage suppliers to improve their performance too.
If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews