Sectors - Civil

New Playbook Launched for Construction

New plans on how the UK Government will work with the construction industry to ensure public sector works are delivered quicker, better and greener have been revealed.

In 2018, public sector works contributed £117 billion to UK economy, as well as supporting more than two million jobs.

The Construction Playbook, launched on 8th December 2020, outlines what the Government expects from these works, which range from new roads and railway lines, to schools, hospitals and prisons.

The Playbook also outlines the key role which the UK construction sector is to play in the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in the country’s attempts to bring down greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Green initiatives in the Playbook include promoting the use of carbon assessments to understand and minimise the greenhouse emissions project.

Other specific measures include:

  • Providing greater certainty to industry through long-term plans for key programmes. This will include longer-term contracting across a range of areas, which will give industry the certainty required to invest in new technologies, delivering improved productivity and efficiency savings
  • Incentivising industry to innovate by focusing on the output of what we want a project to achieve, rather than micromanaging how it is done
  • Modernising construction by standardising designs and parts, as well as embedding digital technologies including the UK Building Information Management Framework
  • Greater focus on building positive relationships with robust contract management between project leads and industry
  • Investing more in training and apprenticeships, driving forward innovation in construction, boost productivity and focus on value for money in public sector developments

Learning lessons from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Construction Playbook also makes it clear that the construction sector must put safety at the heart of everything it does.

The Construction Playbook has been created following months of detailed talks between the Government and the construction sector. The measures have been backed by construction firms and business associations from across the industry.

The document also outlines how the Government will strengthen the financial assessment of all the suppliers it works with to make sure projects are delivered on time and to budget.

Mark Robinson, Group Chief Executive at SCAPE, the UK’s leading public sector procurement authority, said:

“Procurement excellence, which benefits communities and supports local economic growth, is a subject close to our hearts and integral to our clients’ decision making, so we welcome the arrival of the much-anticipated Construction Playbook. With the priority that government that placed upon infrastructure investment in 2021, the new guidance set out by the Cabinet Office will prove instrumental in the UK’s efforts to ‘build back better’.

“The construction industry faces a number of challenges in terms of driving value for money, sustainability and, importantly, ensuring that public sector projects large or small leave a legacy that benefits communities. At a time when the government’s role as a procurer has never been more critical, we welcome the clarity the Playbook will bring to contractors tendering for work across the supply chain as they look to meet best-in-practice standards of delivery and build strong pipelines next year and beyond.”

Those in the public sector working on procurement will need to radically adapt and change the way they work to support change in the construction industry and respond to the challenges faced by the country. So says Lord Kerslake, Non-Executive Chairman of framework provider Pagabo:

“Last week’s government guidance on sourcing and contracting public works projects and programmes has been published at a crucial time – when the UK is still reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and as it moves to a new relationship with the European Union.

“The Construction Playbook is a positive and powerful document with great information on how we can together create a transformation of the construction sector. This document is really important and bigger than people realise – given the size of the construction sector in this country and that it makes up 10 per cent of our economy.

“The report has some particularly positive things in it in terms of health and safety and its primacy in construction and the way it innovates. The report also acknowledges the huge importance of social value and the need to assess projects in terms of their whole life costs and procure for value. Thirdly, and crucially, the importance of digital in construction.

“The report itself features an in-depth analysis on how we move forwards as an industry and how we will take on board these really important issues.

“This is going to involve as much of a change on the procurement side in the public sector as it a change in the construction sector.

“This means a radical change in the process of procurement within the public sector to encourage and support the sector itself changing. There will therefore be the huge task of investing in training and development of the public sector here. And if that doesn’t happen, there is a risk that the sector looks to change but then finds the procurement isn’t changing to keep pace with that. It is vitally important therefore, but both construction and procurement need to work together.

“We need to ensure that the principles of the document are followed through in practice so when we talk about social value it is not a theoretical thing – but is real delivery of social value. Which means that you have to ensure that social benefits are maintained when the contract has started – not just calculated at the beginning.

“Digital technology and digitally enabled procurement and delivery could be enormously helpful in ensuring that the rest of the principles are achieved in practice.  I think that the things that Pagabo has done with its Future of Construction initiative anticipates many of these issues and it fits very well with the approach that Pagabo has taken to try and change its business.

“One issue that I couldn’t see as much about creating a diverse industry.

“The Playbook talks about delivery but more work needs to be done and more thought needs to be given to how this is done across the public sector – a huge and diverse set of organisations.

“The Playbook is important post COVID. COVID has been the focus in the construction sector and within local organisations – and of course, the ‘here and now.’ This has almost certainly crowded out the longer term thinking by government.

“But what I do see are welcome documents such as this Playbook, as well as the government’s Fairer, Faster, Green document on infrastructure and the prime minister’s ten-point plan on zero carbon. It’s all part of the ‘building back better’ agenda and now is the right time to be thinking about all of these aspects.

“The construction industry is vital to the UK’s economy and this Playbook acknowledges that – and it encourages collaborative work across the public sector and private sector. It also notes that the principles and polices in the Playbook aim to transform how we assess procure and manage public works projects and programmes.

“The document is a good guide for how the UK can deliver beyond COVID. But now we need to deliver together – and procurement is at the core of that delivery.”

David Thomson, Head of External Affairs at APM said:

“As the chartered body for the project profession, we welcome the launch of the Government’s Construction Playbook as part of the National Infrastructure Strategy. It is an excellent example of collaboration between government and the construction sector in promoting innovative, modern construction methods, to drive better and smarter delivery of projects across the UK.”

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