One of the real successes for this difficult period is that there has been unprecedented collaboration across the construction industry, with members of the NEC Users’ Group playing a key part. The coordinating role of the UK’s Construction Leadership Council task force has worked well across all areas of construction and infrastructure, resulting in a broader view and better tackling of issues.
For the first time I can remember, our normally fragmented and adversarial industry has come together to address the situation and keep the country running. As I mentioned in my last editorial in Issue 107, site operating procedures were published in the early stages of the pandemic and have been continually updated to reflect the government’s latest position. Guidance on facemasks has also since been released and updated (CLC, 2020a).
Retaining talent, boosting speed
A really critical new initiative to keep people in the industry is the Talent Retention Scheme (CLC, 2020b). This was launched in July this year with support from government and 19 industry partners, including NEC Users’ Group members BAM, Balfour Beatty, Costain, Laing O’Rourke and Mace.
More than 400 employers have now signed up to the scheme, with more than 70% being small to medium-sized enterprises. Over 250 applications for jobs were made in the first 7 weeks of operation.
The UK government is also using the time wisely. A new infrastructure delivery taskforce named Project Speed is looking at the way it procures its projects going forwards. Whether it is the delivery of a minor building repair projects or a new major railway, the principles, rules and guidelines that support the government’s vision of better, faster, greener delivery and improved outcomes are being reviewed. Watch this space.
Delivering social value
In September the government also launched a new procurement policy note to deliver more social value through its commercial activities (Cabinet Office, 2020). Central government organisations will be using the new approach to take account of the additional social benefits that can be achieved in the delivery of its NEC and other contracts, using policy outcomes aligned with the government’s priorities.
The new policy applies to procurements covered by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 as well as all central government departments, their executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies. This will ensure that process for defining social value will be standardised, providing a clear, systematic way to evaluate these priority policies in the award of a contract.
New IPA publications
I would also like to take this opportunity to draw NEC users’ attention to some recent publications by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), for which I am the construction director. These include our new core narrative (IPA, 2020a), our latest annual report on major projects (IPA, 2020b) and our new principles for project success (IPA, 2020c).
The latter includes our advice to, ‘Build trustbased relationships with the supply chain and partner organisations: contract collaboratively to ensure a viable contract and incentivise successful delivery where everyone benefits’. As I am sure you will agree, this is the very essence of NEC contracts and why I am pleased to chair the NEC Users’ Group.
‘There has been unprecedented collaboration across the construction industry, with members of the NEC Users’ Group playing a key part’
Cabinet Office (2020) Procurement Policy Note - Taking Account of Social Value in the Award of Central Government Contracts, Action Note PPN 06/20, September 2020, www.gov.uk/ government/publications/procurement-policynote-0620-taking-account-of-social-value-in-theaward-of-central-government-contracts
CLC (2020a) The Use of Face Coverings in Construction during Coronavirus (COVID-19), September 2020 – Version 2, www. constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/ uploads/2020/08/The-Use-of-Face-Coverings-inConstruction-during-Coronavirus.pdf
CLC (2020b) Talent Retention Scheme, www.trs-system.co.uk/construction
IPA (2020a) About the IPA, www.gov.uk/government/ publications/infrastructure-and-projectsauthority-core-narrative
IPA (2020b) Annual Report on Major Projects 2019-20, www.gov.uk/government/publications/ infrastructure-and-projects-authority-annualreport-2020
IPA (2020c) Principles for project success, www. gov.uk/government/publications/principles-forproject-success