The Construction Playbook has been causing a great deal of discussion throughout the construction industry over recent months. Published in late 2020, it outlines how the government will strengthen the financial assessment of all the suppliers it works with to make sure that projects are delivered on time and on budget – something that will be more important than ever during the UK’s recovery from COVID-19.
In 2018, construction contributed roughly £117 billion to the UK economy, as well as supporting millions of jobs. The Construction Playbook indicates what the government expects from public projects – which range from schools, hospitals and prisons to roads and railway links – and seeks to reset the construction industry’s overall relationship with the public sector in a way that all parties will benefit from.
What exactly is The Construction Playbook?
Simply put, it is based on discussions between the government and the construction sector, with the collaborative process creating the 83-page guidance document, which has been backed by construction firms and business associations from across the industry.
It sets out how it will work with the construction sector to ensure that public sector works are delivered faster, better, and greener. It also outlines the key role that the sector will play in both the UK’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s efforts to meet net zero carbon targets by 2050.
The Playbook is structured into chapters that are centred around the key stages of the typical procurement and project lifecycle, covering preparation and planning, publication, selection, evaluation, awards, and contract implementation. This is broken down into 14 key policies, which are:
As well as this focus structured around project life cycle, the Playbook aims to build modernisation and innovation, increase productivity and efficiency, assess true value for money, drive digitisation and improve levels of health and safety across the board.
What does the Construction Playbook mean for the industry?
At Cartwright, we have a lot of clients from across the property and construction sector, including framework providers, developers and multi-disciplinary practices – so we asked them what they think.
Andy Hicks, managing director at Ramtech, which provides wireless solutions to the construction industry that save lives, protect assets and gain insight, said: “The Construction Playbook plays an important role in safety on construction sites, particularly now in regard to the increased complexity that the pandemic has caused.
“Its recommendations continue to boost the safety of not only workers, but property and equipment, like we are doing with the technology Ramtech provides to sites across the UK, such as the WES range of wireless fire alarm solutions.
“As we constantly move towards a more digitised way of working, the Construction Playbook acknowledges the importance of this, which will keep site safety stronger for many years to come.”
Simon Toplass, chief executive at national framework provider Pagabo, said: “What is evident from The Construction Playbook – and other recent government publications and initiatives like the National Infrastructure Strategy – is the need to support public sector partners in their bid to create the very best buildings.
“As we are emerging from one of the toughest years on our economy in modern history, this has never been more important and our collective effort across the industry to deliver on the principles within the Playbook will not only deliver ‘better, faster, and greener’ solutions, but also build the construction industry and economy of the future.
“Central to delivering on these principles will be framework providers like ourselves. Frameworks provide an efficient method for government to procure public works and allow the public sector to get the best possible outcomes too. One thing the Construction Playbook is seeking to set out is a ‘gold standard’ for frameworks, which is something we are very passionate about creating at Pagabo.”
Alastair Hamilton, partner at leading independent property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard, said: “You only need to look at recent government publications like the Construction Playbook, planning whitepaper and the National Infrastructure Strategy to see just how important some topics like ‘levelling up’ and the health and wellbeing of our industry and communities are.
“Public sector development has played a hugely important part in stimulating development across the UK. As an industry, we now have a real opportunity to ‘build back better’ not just in terms of the actual bricks and mortar, but also by placing a real emphasis on areas like social value and the legacy both within the industry and the communities in which we are working.
“At Pick Everard, we put the concept of better placemaking, better processes and technologies, better lives for communities and improved health and wellbeing at the core of what we are delivering for our clients – aligning with the objectives laid out in the Playbook.”
Mark Wakeford, joint managing director at construction contractor Stepnell, said: “While the Construction Playbook is the guidance for central government, there is little doubt that it will inform the approach taken by other government agencies and, by extension, the private sector as they respond to the changing construction environment that we are working within. This is why companies throughout our industry will be looking at the report to understand its impact on them and the expectations that they must fulfil if they are to continue to serve their customers effectively.
“Sourcing and contracting public works has always been a fine balance between governance and efficiency. I am not convinced that the Playbook will make these decisions easier for regional contractors like ourselves, but it does provide clear guidance on many issues and a vehicle to promote discussion between client and contractor on the best ways to manage performance and risk within a project.”