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Transforming public procurement

Objectives of the consultation

The proposals in this consultation were intended to shape the future of public procurement in the UK for many years ahead. The Government’s stated goal was “to speed up and simplify procurement processes, place value for money at their heart, and unleash opportunities for small businesses, charities and social enterprises to innovate in public service delivery”.

The consultation closed on 10 March 2021.

Supporting papers

To download documents, which supported this consultation, follow the links below.

CIBSE response

CIBSE responded to this consultation to supplement the response from Actuate UK, which the Institution wholeheartedly supports. Therefore, the response contains key supplementary comments on the issues of public safety in the built environment and the contribution of the built environment to achieving the UK’s statutory net zero carbon target.

CIBSE believes that given the very significant influence of public sector procurement on the UK economy, the issue of net zero carbon targets should be enshrined across the public procurement system. In addition, given the widely acknowledged need for fundamental building safety reform and the size of the public sector as a client for construction related works and services, all public procurement in this area should be used to drive the delivery of building safety and a clear focus on a culture of safe outcomes that put building occupants and users at the heart of delivery. It is also notable that there is no mention of procurement being judged against its delivery of outcomes that promote health and wellbeing, which is an important facet of many public services and especially of construction outputs.

There is a huge opportunity to harness the power of public procurement to support the building safety agenda. In the executive summary there is a bullet point about enshrining principles in law, without any mention of safety. In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tragedy this is a significant lost opportunity.

Paragraph 7 talks about leveraging the “huge power of some £290 billion of public money” and talks about growth, productivity, recovering from the pandemic and tackling climate change. There is no mention of the importance of addressing the crisis in building safety which sees thousands trapped in unsaleable homes with limited prospects of a resolution to their plight in the foreseeable future. There is a real need for addressing the current crisis in building safety alongside the recovery from the pandemic and tackling climate change, which is mentioned twice in paragraphs 37 and 38. Similarly, while Lord Agnew makes a similar point about net zero targets, there is no further mention of this anywhere in the main Green Paper.

The power of a properly trained and focussed public sector on procuring for safety would help to drive the culture change that Dame Judith Hackitt has called for to transform the approach to building safety. If the single largest client of construction starts to procure on the basis that those who put safety and delivery of net zero targets first stand a better chance of coming first in competitive tendering, then the industry will respond accordingly. There is a real opportunity for the public sector to lead change here, and to lead change now without waiting for the Building Safety Bill to pass.

To read the full CIBSE response, follow the link below.