New pre-qualification system aims to save £1bn a year
Build UK and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) have launched the first phase of a new pre-qualification (PQ) system that they claim will cut bureaucracy in the sector.
The trade bodies said the current PQ system is complex and estimated that it costs the industry up to £1bn a year. Currently, the multitude of schemes in operation see around 180,000 specialist contractors producing two million pieces of paper every year for 5,000 contractors, the organisations claimed.
The roll-out of the first phase of their new system, which aims to make the industry more efficient, includes:
Publication of the Common Assessment Standard used to pre-qualify companies. Based on existing PQ questionnaires, including BSI’s PAS 91, this covers 10 key areas and includes desktop and site-based assessment standards.
Confirmation of the first recognised assessment bodies to certify companies against the Common Assessment Standard. These organisations are Achilles, CHAS and Constructionline.
The system is being overseen by an interim cross-industry body consisting of experts from organisations across the sector, including public and private sector clients, contractors and trade associations.
Once the new system is fully up and running, companies will not have to be certified by more than one recognised assessment body. A data sharing arrangement is currently being developed which will allow contractors to obtain PQ information from any one of the recognised assessment bodies. Contractors will be transitioning to the new system over the coming months.
Jo Fautley, deputy chief executive of Build UK, said: “The construction industry is making great strides towards more collaborative working and this new PQ system has been developed by industry, for industry, based on standards that clients, contractors and the supply chain have all agreed on. We look forward to the industry getting on board with it over the coming months so we can realise the efficiency gains for everyone’s benefit and boost overall productivity.”
Marie-Claude Hemming, director of external affairs at CECA, said: “CECA has long advocated an industry standard approach to PQ and the new system which builds on PAS 91 will simplify the process and reduce duplication and cost. Change takes time and there will be a transition period, but this marks the start of the rollout of the new system which we anticipate will play a key role in the future delivery of world-class infrastructure.”
Ann Bentley, chair of the Construction Leadership Council business model workstream, said: “The Construction Leadership Council welcomes and supports the proposed reform of the current PQ process – it is a real and practical way of reducing bureaucracy and improving quality in the procurement process. Companies will be able to demonstrate that they meet an agreed industry standard and clients and contractors will be able to rely on the certification. The CLC will be encouraging adoption of the revised standard throughout Government construction procurement.”