Mike Green, director of capital for the Education Funding Agency (EFA), stated that the two school building frameworks might be combined into one.
The EFA first awarded work in 2013 to ten companies for the £4 billion contractors’ framework. In 2014, the government body also awarded £5 billion worth of school building work to 16 companies through its regional framework.
The National Federation of Builders (NFB) had raised numerous concerns about the lack of appropriate SME participation, particularly on the regional framework which was aimed at SMEs. For a framework aimed at SMEs, the turnover threshold of £25 million was prohibitive. The NFB had argued that turnover thresholds were in direct contradiction with the Cabinet Office’s procurement policy note 02/13, which advised procurement bodies against excluding bidders solely on the basis of turnover. This led Lord Francis Maude, who was Cabinet Office minister at the time, to agree that the framework needed to be re-procured.
Speaking about this latest development, the NFB’s Chief Executive Richard Beresford said:
“This period of reflection gives the Education Funding Agency an opportunity to more carefully consider how it will involve SMEs, many of which are substantial and capable of managing supply chains, rather than simply being part of one.
“The NFB hopes that the framework will be run in accordance with the Government’s own procurement guidelines. This way, regional SME contractors, which often have a proven record of success in delivering high-quality results with community needs in mind, should be allowed to compete fairly for work in their own areas without unnecessary obstacles preventing them from making a meaningful contribution to regional economic growth.”