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21st June 2021

Playing the game, with public sector construction

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Along with a new post-Brexit contract tendering regime on the table for how the public sector goes about procuring building works (an estimate of £37BN to be spent on public works during 2021), the Government wants to ensure that construction is delivered better, faster and greener.

The construction industry and Government are supporting what is called the Construction Playbook which was published at the end of last year. 

The Playbook is certainly ambitious, with 14 key policies aimed at:

  • Improving building and workplace safety by creating safe facilities and protecting the health and wellbeing of the workforce (construction supports over two million jobs).
  • The goal of a net zero economy by 2050 including to build greener with a greater appreciation of the whole life cycle of buildings / whole life carbon cost, as part of the climate change fight.
  • The promotion of social values including to assist local communities to recover from Covid-19, tackle economic inequality and promote equal opportunities and improve wellbeing.

Core to the Playbook is the health and well-being of the construction industry itself. With a long history of price competition in tendering practices, construction businesses often work to very narrow profit margins.  With reports of over 100,000 small construction supply chain businesses facing insolvency the aspirations of the Playbook place much emphasis on factors such as construction quality, green credentials and also a longer term partnering model of procurement.  Building in a substantiable, safe and healthy form will not be supported by a race to the lowest price strategy.   

The key policies are:

  1. Being clear about Government works demand pipelines, 3 – 5 years out.
  2. Taking advantage of new technology and innovation, actions to increase competition and market health.
  3. Longer term contracting and bringing work together in portfolios with the goal of enabling longer term contracting certainty, productivity and efficiency savings.
  4. Creating collaboration opportunities, developing and adopting shared standards and specifications. 
  5. Digital technologies including Building Information Management standards, data sharing across the public sector.
  6. Early involvement of the construction supply chain to deliver more effective design and faster project delivery.
  7. Emphasis on outcomes, whole life value, performance and cost aiming to promote innovation and continuous improvement.
  8. Benchmarking of project deliverables.
  9. An analytical process to determine delivery model assessments, enabling clients and industry to work together to deliver the best possible outcomes.
  10. Selecting of a suitable form of construction contract to suit the works, driving collaboration, improving value and managing risk.
  11. Greater work on allocating risk to those best able to manage them to deliver value for money and successful profitable outcomes.
  12. Payment to be linked to the delivery of outputs and/or of the work value and supplier performance.
  13. Assessing the economic and financial standing of suppliers against minimum standards to support the delivery of projects against the risk of insolvency.
  14. Resolution planning information to be provided to help ensure the project continuity including in the event of supplier insolvency.

The Construction Team will provide an update on the Playbook at its upcoming webinar on 13 July.  For more information, and to register your interest please click here.