The Cabinet Office has now published the first revision of the Construction Playbook. The Playbook captures commercial best practices and specific sector reforms outlining the government’s expectations of how contracting authorities and suppliers, including the supply chain, should engage with each other.
These are set out in 14 key policies for how the government should assess, procure and deliver public works projects and programmes which all central government departments and their arms length bodies are expected to follow on a ‘comply or explain’ basis.
This is the culmination of 6 months work, which has involved people from across Whitehall and the construction sector, and to which BEIS has made a significant contribution, particularly in relation to the enhanced content in the Playbook and associated guidance on net zero carbon and environmental performance as a key component of a strategic approach to ensuring the sustainability of infrastructure and construction projects. The key points about the substance of these changes are:
- a clearer statement that whole life carbon assessments should be undertaken for all HMG construction projects and programmes, and that these should be consistent with strategic organisational objectives for decarbonising estates and improving carbon performance;
- further guidance on what action contracting authorities should be undertaking at each stage of the process for implementing these projects, from market engagement through to handover and operation, to deliver improved carbon outcomes, with an emphasis on benchmarking, monitoring and reporting these;
- pointing contracting authorities to a much wider range of external resources (toolkits, advice and guidance, promoting the circular economy and contractual clauses – the CIH Value Toolkit is regularly referenced, and we also cite Construct Zero in the Guidance Note) to support their efforts and enable them to embed a more comprehensive approach;
- incorporation of the need to address the provisions of the Environment Act 2021 (e.g. biodiversity net gain), and also emphasising the importance of wider considerations such as air and water quality; and
- additional and comprehensive guidance on Net Zero and Sustainability, including a set of case studies of best practice. We highly recommend the Foleshill Health Centre one as an example of what can be achieved – but we have also managed to include case studies from HS2, the Environment Agency, and also the product platform developed through the TCC with CIH involvement.
Comment of the revised launch of the Construction Playbook FIS CEO, Iain McIlwee stated:
“The Construction Playbook sets its stall out in the first line – the focus is getting projects and programmes right from the start. Nothing really is more important than this, as per our own research on procurment – the best form of dispute resolution is effective procurement in the first place. It is imperitive as the biggest client of construction in the UK that Government is an exemplar client and that the principles outlined in here extend to the wider public sector procurement and into institutional investors.”