FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General Questions:

Q1. What does ESPO do?
Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO) is a public sector purchasing consortium offering a comprehensive procurement service to help our customers acquire a wide range of products and services, whilst achieving cost savings and ensuring all purchases comply with current UK and EU procurement rules and regulations. We operate within the Education, Central Government, Local/Parish Council, Charity, Social Care, Medical and Emergency Service sectors. Private, profit-making or non-government funded organisations are not eligible to use our services.
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Q2. Where is ESPO located?
Our address is: Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation (ESPO)
Barnsdale Way,
Grove Business Park,
Enderby,
Leicester,
LE19 1ES
Please see our Location page for a map and directions.

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Q3. How can I contact ESPO?
For general enquiries; you may contact our reception on 0116 265 7878 or for more specific enquiries, please see our Contact page.

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Q4. Why should I use ESPO?
There are many benefits to using ESPO including; we can save both you time and money, we ensure EU compliance meaning you can count on the quality of our products and services and we offer huge range of products and services available. You can view a detailed breakdown of the benefits of using ESPO as your procurement agency by visiting our Why Use Us? page.

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Q5. Does ESPO make a profit / how are ESPOs costs recovered?
ESPO is a not-for-profit organisation. We recover our costs in one of two ways: 1. A retrospective rebate payable from our suppliers, normally taken as a small percentage of the contract value and/or 2. A fee payable by the customer based on our estimates of the cost involved in undertaking the procurement.

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Q6. What is PRO5?
Pro5 is a collaboration of the Central Buying Consortium, Eastern Shires Purchasing Organisation, North East Purchasing Organisation, Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation and the wider public sector. The combined purchasing power is in excess of £2 billion per annum. We're dedicated to saving local government and community bodies time, money and effort on commonly purchased goods and services. At a time when local government is expected to do more with less the pressure is on to find new ways to achieve even better value for money. Pro5, as your procurement partner, can help you make measurable savings and reduce the pressures on your time - and ensure your contracts comply with the procurement regulations and rules. You can find out more about Pro5 by visitng www.pro5.org

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Procurement/Purchasing Questions:

Q1. What are the public procurement regulations and rules?
All contracts for goods, services or works by public sector bodies are subject to legislation in the form of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, which implement into UK law the European Commission's Consolidated Directive on public procurement (2004/18/ EC), which was adopted in March 2004.
The law is designed to open up the EU's public procurement market to competition, to prevent "buy national" policies and to promote the free movement of goods and services. All contracts over a specified value are subject to the Regulations and require the public sector body seeking to make the purchase to advertise the contracts in the EU's Official Journal, and to follow procedural rules set down in the Regulations for how the procurement must be undertaken.

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Q2. What is the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU)?
The Official Journal of the European Union is the gazette of record for the European Union. It has been published in 22 official languages (23 when Irish is required) of the member states, every working day since the Treaty of Nice entered into force on 1 February 2003. In practice the publication of a printed Journal ceased in 1997, since when it can be accessed online at http://www.tendersdirect.co.uk/?source=OJEC&lgid=OJEC The Journal comprises three series the first of which (the 'L' Series) is used to publish EU legislation including regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions. The second or 'C' series contains information and notices including the judgments of the European Courts, calls for expressions of interest for EU programmes and projects; public contracts for food aid; etc. and the 'S' Series contains contract related notices - around 2500 new notices are advertised every week - these include invitations to tender, prior information notices, qualification systems and contract award notices.

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Q3. What is a framework agreement?
The public procurement regulations define a framework agreement as "an agreement with suppliers, the purpose of which is to establish the terms governing contracts to be awarded during a given period, in particular with regard to price and quantity". The EU Public Sector Procurement Directive applies when public authorities seek to acquire goods, services, or works. The framework agreement may, itself, be a contract to which the EU procurement rules apply. Alternatively it may simply be an agreement under which contracts are only formed when goods, works and services are called off. They are a particularly effective means of acquiring goods and services the requirements for which occur on a periodic or regular basis, and especially lend themselves to collaborative procurement as they enable the requirements of many organisations to be aggregated, thereby securing economies of scale, whilst at the same time eliminating the need for to run separate competitive tendering exercises for each requirement, reducing the amount of time and effort required to procure the requirement.

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Q4. What is sustainable procurement?
Sustainable procurement means taking sustainability considerations into account in making purchasing decisions - thinking carefully about what you buy, buying only what you really need, purchasing products and services with high environmental performance and considering the social and economic impacts of a purchasing decision.
Examples can range from small scale actions such as buying recycled paper or fair trade products, to the installation of high energy efficiency standards in buildings, or procuring efficient and clean vehicles.

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Customer Questions:

Q1. Who is eligible to be a customer of ESPO?
EPSO can serve the following public sector customers: Local Authority Councils, Educational establishments, Central Government Departments, Registered Charities, Registered social landlords, Police, Fire & Rescue, and Maritime and Coastguard and NHS bodies and the HSC (Northern Ireland) and Ambulance Services. Please see our Permissable Users Page for further details & definitions.

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Q2. What are ESPO's areas of operation?
We operate within the United Kingdom (UK) - England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.
Administrative Regions of the United Kingdom/UK: All Local Government administered regions of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Regions in England: Reference may be made to the 9 highest tier of Regions:-East Midlands; West Midlands; East of England; South East; South West; North West; North East; Yorkshire & Humber; London, or to individual administering Councils.
Northern Ireland: Administered across 26 Districts of Northern Ireland.
Scotland: Administered across 32 Council areas.
Wales: Administered across 22 Council areas.

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Q3. How do I register to become a customer of ESPO?
Please complete the on-line application form here and we will process your application and forward you a login and password if you wish to shop online, alternatively contact Marketing Services for further assistance:
Telephone 0116 265 7927 or 0116 294 4026
Fax 0116 265 7909
E-Mail marketing@espo.org
Once we have processed your application you will be issued with a unique delivery point number, please quote this number whenever you contact ESPO.

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Q4. Where can I find a list of the contracts / framework agreements ESPO has put in place?
Please see www.espodealingdirect.org. This list does not cover everything that ESPO does, see individual Service categories for more information.

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Q5. What sorts of products and services can I buy through ESPO?
A huge range of products and services is available through ESPO covering the majority of the procurement requirements of our customers. If you can't see the product or service you are looking for at www.espocatalogue.org or www.espodealingdirect.org , please contact us.

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Q6. What does ESPO's service include?
ESPO offers a service tailored to your needs. If you are ordering from our catalogue, then we offer customer support throughout the process. If you have more complex contract requirements, we work with you to achieve your procurement objectives.

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Q7. Can I see a case study for a previous procurement exercise?
Selected Services pages have case studies which detail a particular procurement project, and the customer's view of the process. We are currently working on improving our Case Studies page. Please keep checking for updates.

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Q8. Are your latest catalogues available online?
Yes. Please visit our Catalogues page for more details.

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Q9. Can I be sent a hard copy of your catalogues?
Yes, contact our Marketing Services Team on tel: 0116 265 7927 or 0116 294 4026, or by email marketing@espo.org

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Q10. What sorts of goods are available in the ESPO General catalogue?
We offer a huge range of products in the catalogue, you can search for what you're looking for when you sign up to use www.espocatalogue.org or visit the individual service pages for a flavour of what we do. If your require something specific, please contact us.

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Q11. What is ESPO Dealing Direct?
ESPO, acting on behalf of public sector bodies, negotiates a range of EU compliant contract arrangements which are fundamentally designed to enable customers to deal directly with the nominated suppliers.

For the vast majority of contracts on 'DD', you will place orders and enquiries for products and services directly with the supplier(s), rather than with ESPO.

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Q12. What is the difference between ESPO Dealing Direct catalogue and the ESPO General Catalogue?
The ESPO general catalogue allows you to order through ESPO and receive products either from our warehouse stock or from the supplier, the Dealing Direct catalogue allows you to order and receive your order directly from the supplier, simply quoting the ESPO contract number to ensure you receive products at ESPO's competitive rates.

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Q13. How can I contact ESPO customer services?
Please see our Customer Services Page for contact details.

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Q14. How do I return a product?
For Stock products from our warehouse - Please call Customer Services on 0116 294 4377 quoting your Delivery Point Number, the delivery note number, the order number and the items(s) and reason for their return. No charge is made for the return of stock items, returned in the original delivered condition and original packaging.

For direct delivery products - Please contact the direct delivery team on 0116 294 4039  within 5 working days of receipt of the goods, quoting your Delivery Point Number, the delivery note number, the order number and the items(s) and reason for their return. Some direct delivery products are manufactured to order and may not be returnable.

For dealing direct products - contact the company that you ordered the product from. Returns policies may vary from supplier to supplier.

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