The latest from our Procurement Group meeting: Value Toolkit, modern slavery, the role of procurement

Constructing Excellence

On the 25th of May, we held our Procurement Group meeting, where our speakers touched on important topics – the Value Toolkit, modern slavery in the construction industry and the role of procurement.

We will hold our next Procurement Group meeting on the 27th of September. To join the conversation, register here.
Do you want to get involved? Get in touch @ Helpdesk@constructingexcellence.org.uk to learn how you can drive better procurement practices within your business.

Value Toolkit
During our latest Procurement Group meeting, Ann Bentley of Rider Levett Bucknall gave an overview of the current status of the Value Toolkit, which has now launched for BETA testing. The guidance notes that sit behind the toolkit are being refined and finalised as part of this stage. Over 100 organisations have signed up for the BETA testing of the Value Toolkit. Approximately 50% are consultants, with RSLs, Government Departments and Private Sector Clients included. At this stage, very few Tier 2 & Tier 3 contractors are involved.

The discussion shifted towards how the Value Toolkit is linked to The Construction Playbook. The Construction Playbook is a significant policy piece that captures commercial best practices and specific sector reforms. It outlines the government’s expectations of how contracting authorities and suppliers, including the supply chain, should engage with each other. Directly supporting key policy objectives common to both the government’s Construction Playbook and CLC Roadmap to Recovery, the Value Toolkit will allow policymakers and clients to make informed decisions at every stage of the project lifecycle. The Value Toolkit can be most beneficially applied at the pioneering stage when framework partners are selected.

The in-use phase of the toolkit should provide robust data that can support better decision making and legacy conversations. Moreover, discussions are underway on where the data gathered should sit. The topic of competence was discussed, and Ann has confirmed a training and accreditation programme in development, which considers something for everyone interested.
Consideration is also being given to the role of how universities and professional bodies may best be involved in this.

Modern Slavery
Steve Baker of East Riding of Yorkshire Council provided an overview of his work with the Local Government Association on Modern Slavery. In 2020, the Modern Slavery Act was applied to the whole public sector. However, there is limited awareness of this. Steve outlined why the construction sector is particularly prone to modern slavery, one of the main problems being a lack of supply chain visibility. Issues include materials production, raw material extraction and use of casual labour on sites. Local Government Association is developing a supply chain auditing tool in collaboration with the University of Nottingham Rights Lab and Action Sustainability, which will be launched later in 2021.
Modern slavery still remains unclear at the tender stage in the development of construction projects. However, organisations such as YORhub have standard Z clauses for contracts with Modern Slavery.

It is agreed that clients need to drive the fight against modern slavery in the sector. One of the reasons why modern slavery could be exacerbated comes from labour and materials shortages that pressure the delivery of programmes and costs. Nonetheless, the resources required for effective reporting need to be considered. The attendees saw a solid potential to overcome modern slavery in the construction industry using the Value Toolkit and the Construction Playbook. This approach could facilitate upfront planning and nudge clients into considering the project’s financial viability at an early stage while making sure the supply chain has the capability and capacity required. The Building Safety Bill could positively impact modern slavery by shining a light on the provenance of materials and the declared supply chains. This links very strongly to the uptake of new technology and the cultural change needed to drive this change.

Role of Procurement
During the previous meeting, it was suggested to revisit the terms of reference considering the definition and scope of procurement. This links with the BS8534 and its associated ISO, which focuses on strategic procurement. What is strategic procurement? Strategic procurement goes beyond tendering and extends backwards to putting demand into business case review and forwards into the supply chain. This type of procurement is essential to uptake new construction approaches and technologies, such as needed to unlock MMC and effective Retrofit.

It was agreed to look in-depth at the ISO document with Prof Will Swann at the appropriate time.

The Project Bank Accounts document and Fair Payments were discussed. Steve Baker reported that the YORHub framework is moving the threshold for Project Bank Accounts from £5 million to £2 million.
A subsequent conversation took place with Steve Bratt, and he agreed to attend the next procurement group meeting to share the work the CLC is doing on business models and fair payments.

Do you want to get involved? Get in touch @ Helpdesk@constructingexcellence.org.uk to learn how you can drive better procurement practices within your business.