#BuildingForImpact – Government Initiatives supporting MMC Growth

Over the last few months the UK Government has launched or supported a number of significant reports and initiatives to encourage better performance from public sector clients and their suppliers.  There are three that could provide particular stimulation to the offsite industry.

In the summer of last year, the Construction Leadership Council published guidance on how the industry could bounce back from COVID-19.  Its Roadmap to Recovery launched a multi-year strategy for getting the industry back to work.  This not only acknowledged the construction sector as a driver of economic recovery but also presented a plan for emerging from the worst recession the UK has experienced in over 80 years.  The three stages of Restart, Reset and Reinvent set sensible approaches for getting us back on our feet.  What was good to see is that the CLC was not advocating new objectives, but rather that current objectives be reinforced.  There was a call for full implementation of the presumption of offsite, for example, with an exhortation that private sector clients also increase their use of offsite manufacturing.  If this made sense before COVID-19, it will make all the more sense in the ‘new normal’, as the industry adjusts to requirements for safer, more efficient and reduced carbon ways of working.  An update from the CLC was issued in October 2020, and can be found at https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/news/road-to-recovery-clc-covid-19-recovery-plan-update/

In December The Construction Playbook was published, focused on getting projects and programmes right from the start. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-construction-playbook. Whether the delivery of a school, hospital or major infrastructure project; the principles and policies in the Playbook are intended to transform how Government assesses, procures and manages public works projects and programmes.

The Playbook acknowledges that transformational change is needed, and will only be achieved by systematically approaching risk, sustainability and innovation across portfolios of projects and programmes. This should harness the excellence which already exists, learn from it and then drive progress and strengthen the health of the sector, including by addressing low levels of productivity and future skills shortages. It is in everyone’s interests to create a profitable, sustainable and resilient industry with a well-trained workforce for the future.

By adopting the policies in this Playbook, the Government will seek to:

  • Set clear and appropriate outcome-based specifications that are designed with the input of industry to ensure continuous improvement and innovation.
  • Favour longer term contracting across portfolios, where appropriate.
  • Drive innovation and Modern Methods of Construction, through standardisation and aggregation of demand, increased client capability and setting clear requirements for suppliers.
  • Create sustainable, win-win contracting arrangements that incentivise better outcomes, improve risk management and promote the general financial health of the sector.
  • Strengthen financial assessment of suppliers and prepare for the rare occasions when things go wrong, with the introduction of resolution planning information requirements into critical contracts.

Buildoffsite has recently published a response to the Playbook, which can be found at https://www.buildoffsite.com/news/an-offsite-sector-response-to-the-governments-construction-playbook/.

Finally, in 2016 the IPA (Infrastructure and Projects Authority – part of HM Treasury) issued a set of tools to help UK and international public and private sector infrastructure providers improve the delivery of their projects and programmes.  These are known as the Project Initiation Routemap and Project Development Routemap.  Included in the ‘pack’ were seven appendices or ‘modules’ addressing major issues, including Requirements, Governance, Execution Strategy, etc.  You can find information on the Routemaps at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/improving-infrastructure-delivery-project-initiation-routemap. Use of the Routemap is not mandatory, but it has been designed to provide good guidance to public sector and private sector clients alike. Work is currently underway to refresh the modules, and to add a further module concerned with Systems Integration.  This new module is being developed and drafted through a technology steering group which I am chairing.

Professor Tim Broyd is Head of Industry Foresight at Buildoffsite, and Director for Institute for Digital Innovation in the Built Environment at UCL.

Tim will be hosting Buildoffsite’s inaugural virtual conference #BuildingForImpact on the 26th January. For further details and instructions on how to register, visit https://www.buildoffsite.com/events/save-the-date-virtual-mmc-conference/.

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