I have today deposited in the Library of the House a copy of the annual report and accounts of Firebuy Ltd for the financial years 2010 to 2012.
Firebuy Ltd was an Executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government. It was a public policy failure of the last Administration, on top of the failed FireControl programme. In October 2010 it was announced that Firebuy was closing as part of the Government’s wider review of arm’s length bodies. It went into voluntary liquidation and ceased trading on 13 July 2011.
These accounts have been produced to report to Parliament for the expenditure incurred between 1 April 2010 to 13 July 2011 when Firebuy entered into liquidation and for all subsequent transactions up to 31 March 2012. In doing so my Department is fulfilling its intention to produce the accounts on Firebuy’s behalf in order to meet our commitments within managing public money and to be open and transparent.
The directors of Firebuy were discharged prior to completion of these accounts in order to allow Firebuy to enter into liquidation and close. Retaining the directors while these accounts were being produced would have delayed closure and incurred additional costs to the public purse in respect of an organisation that had failed to deliver value for money. By closing Firebuy the Department has saved over £1 million per annum.
We will be taking forward the lessons learnt from Firebuy’s operation (and the closure process) within my Department as well as disseminating across Whitehall.
Ultimately procurement is a matter for fire and rescue authorities to lead on based on their individual requirements. They are best placed to develop relevant models that ensure best practice standards are adopted as appropriate, so that the financial and efficiency benefits of inter- operability and collaborative procurement can be realised. Like other public bodies, fire and rescue authorities are encouraged to update the publicly available “Contracts Finder” with details of upcoming procurement to allow suppliers to access these opportunities and promote joined-up procurement.