Southwark Council and Comensura benefit from a long-term partnership underpinned by shared values and a commitment to find a smarter way to work with each new day.
Southwark Council based in South London, forms part of Inner London and was created in 1965. A London Borough extending from the River Thames into south-east London, Southwark encompasses some of the capital’s cultural hotspots, vibrant communities and acclaimed green spaces. Its central location provides excellent transport links making it a highly accessible area. The council is committed to making a real difference to the quality of life for local people, making the home environment cleaner, safer, and more modern.
Southwark Council originally tendered its requirement for a vendor neutral managed service provider of temporary and interim staff in 2005, awarding a contract to Comensura which subsequently went live in April 2006. The council sought savings, greater efficiency from the way they engaged workers, robust risk management and good quality workers from the contract, and also a partner who would work with them to develop an enhanced safeguarding programme in light of the Bichard Inquiry. Absolute neutrality from the supply chain was a fundamental prerequisite, with supply from affiliated businesses forbidden. The contract has subsequently been retendered and re-awarded to Comensura on three separate occasions, in 2011, 2014 and most recently 2018.
Comensura initially provided Southwark Council with our classic service, standardising and systemising temporary worker acquisition processes whilst maximising competition and delivering quality workers at low prices. Our service has been adapted with each new contractual iteration to reflect the council’s changing needs, ensuring that we work in partnership to continually realise ways of working more efficiently and effectively. Key to the success of this has been the experience and continuity of our people. Our Head of Service (overall customer responsibility) joined as an on-site account manager for the council when the first contract began, and our current on-site account manager has over 12 years’ experience of working with Local Authorities and has been onsite with the council since 2018.
Direct cash savings delivered in the first contract amounted to £12m, with a further £2m delivered in each new iteration after baseline resetting.
- Total spend has reduced from a £43m per annum peak to £22m, through the introduction of demand management and workforce planning initiatives.
- Integration of Southwark Works, the council’s job brokerage service as a supplier. Comensura and Southwark Works also deliver real social value through regular co-hosted CV writing and interview skills workshops for Southwark residents.
- Reduced the amount of invoices being processed annually from around 61,000 to 52 (1 consolidated invoice per week).
- Co-production of a bespoke safeguarding service.
- Specialist interim category management approach introduced.
- Volume leveraged with a single supplier for manual labour requirements.
- Management of statement of work requirements.
Feedback from Procurement
“Thanks again for your help - please pass on to your boss how wonderfully helpful you have been to me! It really is very much appreciated!”
Head of Procurement
Feedback from HR
“Alieh has been working remotely (like the rest of us) for the last year but has continued to drive forward some really important work on the social value elements of the contract with Southwark. During the last few months, there have been CV writing and interview techniques sessions run jointly with the Venn group, Southwark works and Alieh. These have been well attended and well received with great feedback coming in to us as an authority.
I have spoken to Alieh about keeping a record of all the positive outcomes for the annual contract review, but even more importantly, this week we saw two people offered exciting roles in the Electoral Services team as we prepare for the mayoral elections in May. These opportunities have come about purely through the social values work undertaken by Alieh.
Anyway, I hope this feedback is well received as Alieh is a great ambassador for Comensura and a great support to us here at Southwark.”
Strategic Lead - HR Customer Delivery
Feedback from Southwark Works
“Southwark Works is a local authority funded programme to support the employability needs of its most disadvantaged residents.
We have been working in partnership with Alieh Yadegari from Comensura since the Autumn of 2019. This has enabled us to have access to a broad range of temporary opportunities for our clients in a number of areas including Admin, IT, Finance and Benefits, Social and Healthcare and HR. This type of employment opportunity is invaluable for our clients and can provide them with high quality work experience to enhance their CV and job prospects. Temp roles can also very often lead to something more permanent. Alieh from Comensura has welcomed us and really supported us in accessing these roles and has also introduced us to other employers in her networks, which in turn has led to positive activities and workshops for our clients. Our partnership with Comensura and other partners is proving to be very rewarding and beneficial for our staff and clients alike.”
Hiring Manager feedback
“I wanted to provide you with some positive feedback on my recent contact with Alieh Yadegari at Comensura. I have used Comensura before, albeit not for a very long time, so am coming at this from a novice perspective. Alieh could not have been more helpful in assisting me with the process. No question (of which I had a lot) was considered silly and she was very amenable and patient in supporting me with a ‘walk through’ guide on the phone of how to place an order through to a booking. It was a really friendly and positive experience and I would like this to be noted in terms of the council’s contract with Comensura.”
Feedback on our support for Statement of Work requirements
“Alieh has offered excellent support during this recruitment process, from setting me up as a new recruiting manager to negotiating with the third party. She is very approachable and has patiently guided me through each step of the process. I’m very pleased with the outcome and think she is a great asset to her organisation.”
Information Governance Manager
Feedback from a key supplier
“Alieh’s personable and professional approach immediately instilled me with a strong sense of trust, which is crucial in any business relationship. She also demonstrated a detailed knowledge of her client’s needs, and associated corporate requirements. She continues to give useful practical guidance when dealing with key challenges, and always appears very capable in handling problems diligently.
I would highly recommend Alieh for her professionalism and her pleasant manner. She displays excellent knowledge balanced with sound commercial understanding, providing practical and workable solutions to her client, Southwark Council and her suppliers, including myself.
Alieh offers support and bespoke advice which is based on both practical and commercial requirements. She takes the time to understand the individual details of a situation, and doesn’t try to provide standard formula responses.
I would therefore have no hesitation at all in recommending Alieh as a successful and dedicated Relationship Manager based on the quality of service provided. She has always been friendly and supportive which is essential in establishing a good rapport and developing a positive business relationship.”
“I would like to thank the Comensura service centre for all the excellent support and help given over the last few years. Their quick and measured response has been invaluable.”