CECA & Build UK Launch First Phase Of New Pre-Qualification System

The UK construction industry has taken a major step towards improved efficiency with the launch of the first phase of a new Pre-Qualification System.

CECA and Build UK have announced the launch of the first phase of the new system, which is designed to reduce inefficiencies that are costing the construction industry up to £1 billion a year.

The existing PQ system is complex and repetitive and a major barrier to improved productivity. The multitude of schemes currently in operation sees around 180,000 specialist contractors producing over two million pieces of paper every year for 5,000 contractors.

The new system will ultimately allow for greater consistency and efficiency in how companies become pre-qualified for work at the first stage.

The roll-out of this first phase of the new system includes:

  • Publication of the Common Assessment Standard used to pre-qualify companies. Based on existing PQ questionnaires, including BSI’s PAS 91, this covers 10 key areas and includes desktop and site-based assessment standards.
  • Confirmation of the first recognised assessment bodies to certify companies against the Common Assessment Standard. These organisations are Achilles, CHAS, and Constructionline.

The system is being overseen by an Interim Cross Industry Body consisting of experts from organisations across the sector, including public and private sector clients, contractors and trade associations.

Once the new system is fully up and running, companies will be audited once a year, and they will not have to be certified by more than one recognised assessment body. There will be a data sharing arrangement which will allow contractors to obtain pre-qualification information from any one of the recognised assessment bodies. Contractors will be transitioning to the new system over the coming months.

CECA Director of External Affairs Marie-Claude Hemming said: “CECA has long advocated an industry standard approach to PQ and the new system which builds on PAS 91 will simplify the process and reduce duplication and cost. Change takes time and there will be a transition period, but this marks the start of the roll-out of the new system which we anticipate will play a key role in the delivery of world-class infrastructure.”

Deputy Chief Executive of Build UK Jo Fautley said: “The construction industry is making great strides towards more collaborative working and this new PQ system has been developed by industry, for industry, based on standards that clients, contractors and the supply chain have all agreed on. We look forward to the industry getting on board with it over the coming months so we can realise the efficiency gains for everyone’s benefit and boost overall productivity.”

Ann Bentley, Chair of the Construction Leadership Council Business Model Workstream said: “The Construction Leadership Council welcomes and supports the proposed reform of the current PQ process – it is a real and practical way of reducing bureaucracy and improving quality in the procurement process. Companies will be able to demonstrate that they meet an agreed industry standard and clients and contractors will be able to rely on the certification. The CLC will be encouraging adoption of the revised standard throughout Government construction procurement.”

Further detail on the PQ system is available on the Built UK website here.