UK Government Releases Construction Playbook

The UK government has published its Construction Playbook, outlining commercial best practices and reforms. Covering everything from preparation and planning to financial monitoring and operations, it sets out how contractors and suppliers should work in 2021 and beyond to make projects quicker, better and greener.

With the construction industry being so large and public works projects contributing so much to the economy – £117 billion in 2018 – it’s more important than ever that it comes out of the coronavirus pandemic stronger than ever.

The playbook includes measures that will:

  • Provide long-term plans and security for key public works programmes
  • Modernise construction with standardised designs and parts
  • Bring more digital technologies into construction
  • Put more focus on building positive relationships in the industry
  • Invest more in training and apprenticeships

This has come about following months of talks between the government and the construction sector. The Construction Playbook has been backed by firms and business associations up and down the UK, and it came into effect in December 2020.

Who is the playbook aimed at?

While the contents of the Construction Playbook are considered good practice for everyone involved in public works projects, it is primarily aimed at those in commercial, finance, project delivery and policy departments. Knowing the contents of the playbook is essential as you will only be able to ignore parts if you can give a good reason. However, this ‘comply or explain’ system does show that the government recognises there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to public works.

The government also states that ministers, permanent secretaries, accounting offices, project sponsors and more will find the information useful.

What’s in the playbook?

At the playbook’s core are 14 key policies. These address how the government should assess, procure and deliver public works projects and programmes. The policies are:

  • Commercial pipelines
  • Marketing health and capability assessments
  • Portfolios and longer term contracting
  • Harmonising, digitising and rationalising demand
  • Further embedding digital technologies
  • Early supply chain involvement
  • Outcome-based approaches
  • Benchmarking and Should Cost Models
  • Delivery model assessments
  • Effective contracting
  • Risk allocation
  • Payment mechanisms and pricing approaches
  • Assessing the economic and financial standing of suppliers
  • Resolution planning

Together, they bring together commercial best practices and reforms that will increase the end-to-end speed of projects and programmes.

As Andy Mitchell, industry-side co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, says: “[The playbook] will aim to deliver a better and fairer industry, with stronger and more open relationships between the industry and its clients, fewer disputes, and more equitable contractual terms, that ensure prompt and fair payment and balanced allocation of risk, where these are managed by the organisation best places to do so.”

Some time is also spent on the government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. This will be achieved through promoting the use of carbon assessments. Cabinet Office Minister Lord Agnew says, “By adopting the new Construction Playbook, developed with industry partners, we will help ensure that the sector becomes greener and more innovative.”

“The vision will only be achieved by working together and setting out clear requirements to reform the industry,” adds Cabinet Office permanent secretary Alex Chisholm.

Carol Massay, head of construction at The Access Group, says, “It is a fundamental requirement that the built environment support this transformational journey. It serves as a real commitment to support the sector to introduce good practices for businesses and the public sector. We are keen to support these changes with our construction management technology offering.”

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  • Post demo financial proposal

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