New Public Sector Cooperation Agreement paves way for closer partnership working on maintenance

Posted: Monday 2nd December 2013

The new Public Sector Cooperation Agreement (PSCA) provides arrangements for an Internal Drainage Board (IDB), or other Risk Management Authorities, and the Environment Agency to deliver maintenance by a partnership approach. This is a major step forward in securing efficient work practices at a local level, avoiding the need to tender for work. The agreement supersedes former Memoranda of Understanding, placing both parties on a sound legal basis and ensuring consistency of approach across the country. The first agreement is now in place with others expected to follow.

The Public Sector Cooperation Agreement

A guidance document and template agreement have been developed by the Environment Agency, Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA) and pilot IDBs - Black Sluice, Trent Valley, Lindsey Marsh, Upper Witham, Witham 1st and 3rd. Based on section 13(4) of the Floods and Water Management Act, a PSCA can cover any maintenance activity such as inspections, obstruction removal, weed control, grass cutting, tree work, vermin control, pump operation.
Benefits to a PSCA include:

  • Securing efficient local working arrangements which will achieve value for money in delivering operational maintenance activities.

  • Taking advantage of local skills and experience including local knowledge of geography, associated river/drainage systems and operational practices, to benefit local communities.

  • Having flexible partnership working arrangements. Agreements may cover a period of up to five years, with annual reviews to refine the specific extent of activities to be carried out.

  • Standardised documents which are simple to apply to local needs.

Use of the PSCA

The PSCA and associated guidance is now available and will greatly assist Environment Agency and IDB discussions on future maintenance delivery at the local scale. The agreement can include activities that will be undertaken by either party on behalf of the other. A similar approach can be taken between the Environment Agency and a Lead Local Flood Authority.

The guidance document explains how to set up an agreement and the proposed checks for a successful partnership arrangement. The template agreement is designed so that the scope of activities, outline programme and working arrangements can readily be added, specific to local needs. These have been developed with inputs from ADA and pilot IDBs to ensure the agreement is flexible and as simple and easy to use as possible.

The first of the new PSCAs has been signed between the Environment Agency and Trent Valley IDB to cover a five year period on maintenance in that catchment area. It is estimated that this approach could generate up to 10% savings over traditional tender/contract arrangements. Agreements with the other pilot IDBs are in development and likely to commence soon. Further discussions are also in progress with IDBs in Anglian, Yorkshire and Wessex. Use of PSCAs and the savings generated will be monitored and reviewed as these progress.

The PSCA is a key outcome of Ian Russell's assignment with ADA. Ian can be contacted at Environment Agency, Waterside House, Waterside North, Lincoln, LN2 5HA or at

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