Homes tenders avoid pre-election spending 'purdah'

9 April 2010

English councils have put more than 7,000 homes out to tender in the past weeks in advance of “purdah” rules that will stop quangos spending until after the general election, Building reported.

The government has announced tenders for 900 homes on six sites through the Homes and Communities Agency delivery partner panel, with the HCA originally forecasting that 1 250 homes would be delivered by contractors on the panel. 

However, industry sources say that six more schemes have been tendered by councils independently, totalling 7,150 homes, including the 1,700-home regeneration of North Prospects Estate in Plymouth and work in Manchester and Islington.

The notifications come in advance of a shutdown in public procurement that will be far more severe than during previous general elections. The Cabinet Office this week said that all spending quangos would be subject to purdah restrictions, which means they will not be allowed to make any new spending decisions or sign contracts on previously committed funding.

However, it is widely accepted that projects that have been tendered have more chance of surviving future spending cuts.

Lovell last week picked up the first contract awarded through the delivery partner panel for a 45-home £4.7m scheme for Bradford council. It will start work at the end of the month.

Quango bosses, who spend £46.5bn of public money a year, have been told the rules were tightened because of the state of public finances and the chance that the next government will oppose Labour’s funding decisions. The HCA, Partnerships for Schools, and the Highways Agency will all be affected. 

Sir Bob Kerslake, HCA chief executive, this week wrote to private sector partners saying: “The purdah rules have been revised in the run-up to this election. As a result, the HCA will not be able to approve new investment or enter into contracts already approved.”


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