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Driving better procurement by applying Construction Playbook policies

Wates Partner Insight


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SCAPE's #ABetter Way webinar series concluded with driving better procurement. Andrew Riggs, head of government sector at Wates, shares his thoughts on the session and the Construction Playbook.

I recently had the pleasure of joining a panel discussion hosted by Wates’ long-term partner SCAPE, exploring how implementing best practice from the Construction Playbook can drive better outcomes and value through procurement.

The Construction Playbook – an 83-page government blueprint for delivering public sector works – was for me a personal journey. As a business with a public sector portfolio of more than £1.2 billion, we put a considerable amount of energy into the consultation process for the initiative, with the aim of driving the necessary reforms in our industry. Despite this, the webinar highlighted that the Construction Playbook remains unfamiliar territory for many in local government, with 64% of the audience saying they either weren’t aware or were unsure of what it involves.

Thank you again to our panel of speakers:

Key takeaways from the session

We focused on a number of Construction Playbook policies during the session, ranging from delivery model assessments and effective contracting, through to risk allocation and resolution planning. The common thread throughout was the critical importance of early engagement and the role that frameworks can play in promoting this.

Wates has been a delivery partner on the SCAPE Construction | For The Public Sector framework since 2017, working on 14 projects in that time, and has seen first-hand how its model for early engagement enables us to provide a more comprehensive service and better value for money. Procurement suffers a reputation for being a long-winded process, but involving contractors early in the design process ensures that we understand our customer’s risk appetite, as well as their desired outcomes. This not only means risks can be mitigated in design and planning, but also ensures that projects are delivered on time, on budget and to the highest standard possible.

Early client engagement
Social value
Lasting legacies

At Gibside SEN school in Gateshead - a purpose-built SEN institute accommodating 170 pupils - we worked collaboratively with the client and with SCAPE to incorporate the needs of children with multiple learning disabilities into the design. This included features such as a hydrotherapy pool with hoists that can take pupils directly from changing beds to the water, as well as sensory and soft play rooms, ensuring the new school brings additional benefits to the children and that they continue to get an outstanding start in education.

When it comes to outcomes, London Borough of Lambeth and Ebbsfleet Development Corporation both confirmed during the webinar what we already knew: that social value is critical. Both the Construction Playbook and the latest government procurement guidance - which states the need for public spending to drive wider benefits in society, such as creating new jobs or helping to protect the environment – reinforces that its importance is stronger than ever.

Public bodies understandably want to see as great a return on investment as possible, and strong relationships with partners are the bedrock for creating social value that has real and long-lasting impacts. In June we managed to hit a huge milestone, spending more than £1 million with social enterprises on SCAPE jobs. Through our work on the Nottingham College City Hub, for example, we created 29 apprenticeships, and our site team carried out 65 educational visits over the course of the project.

Working collaboratively with our customers, consultants and supply chain from day one, under the umbrella of frameworks like SCAPE, means we ensure that social value is customised to our customer’s requirements. And, most importantly, that it is not just delivered throughout the construction period, but leaves a lasting legacy that serves the local community for years to come.

Ultimately, a lot of these practices are already happening, and policy is catching up. However, awareness needs to be raised on the role the Construction Playbook can play, embedding its blueprint across the supply chain to drive better procurement moving forward, as well continuing to collaborate across the public and private sectors to bring together expertise.

#ABetterWay | Driving Better Procurement

Written by:

Andrew Riggs
Head of Government Sector