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CECA calls for public funding to be based on good procurement

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association has called for funding for public bodies to be linked to good procurement under a series of recommendations to the government ahead of party conferences.

In a new report, Infrastructure: the Routemap for Growth, the association outlines a set of policy areas it wants to see implemented ahead of the upcoming party conferences.

Among its other policy recommendations is fair access to frameworks, rebalancing investment across the UK and commissioning of a feasibility study to consider options for bulk transfer of water across the UK.

The publication will be used by CECA in its meetings with MPs and other senior political figures during party conferences, and in the run-up to the chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

The report states that CECA has welcomed efforts by governments in England, Scotland and Wales to reform the way that construction is procured, focusing on greater integration and a move away from potentially bidding based solely on price.

However it adds that adversarial or wasteful behaviour still exists in part of the industry, and steps must be taken to mitigate these behaviours.

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “Too often the overriding need for infrastructure is blocked by short-term politics. We want to see all sides recognise that the vital need to improve the UK’s transport and utility networks should rise above party politics.

“We also want to see future investment in infrastructure more evenly balanced across the UK, helping to rebuild local economies throughout the country. To do this, we will need to attract new forms of funding and finance, something that can only be achieved with appropriate models in place.

“Finally, where there are opportunities to deliver more direct boosts to growth and industry activity these must be grasped. CECA is asking the government to direct new resources through existing infrastructure repair and maintenance contracts to provide an immediate shot in the arm to the economy.”

Its headline recommendations are:

  • Provide immediate short term funding to boost shovel-ready repair and maintenance activity
  • Rebalance infrastructure investment throughout the UK
  • Develop cross-party consensus on nationally-significant infrastructure policy and a long-term delivery programme
  • Ensure appropriate finance and funding models are in place to meet future investment needs

Roads/Rail:

  • Establish a pro-active maintenance regime for roads based on ‘whole life’ value
  • Committing to a firm programme for the nationwide roll-out of ultra-low emission vehicle infrastructure

Network Rail must work with industry to:

  • Build upon recent improvements in rail procurement to implement collaborative models of delivery across the sector
  • Use greater visibility of future investment to secure a highly performing, globally competitive rail supply chain

Energy/Water:

  • Commitment to a long-term UK energy policy which does not deter badly needed investment
  • Maintained focus on policies to ensure the first new nuclear power stations in England and Wales begin generating electricity from 2020
  • Close scrutiny of the UK Renewable Energy Roadmap to ensure the 2020 target is met
  • Effective management of shale gas extraction through the implementation of operational best practice, robustly enforced through regulation
  • Commissioning of a feasibility study to consider options for bulk transfer of water across the UK
  • Smoothing of investment in the water sector to remove current boom-and-bust cycles
  • Implementation of uniform site water skills standards
  • Mandatory sustainable drainage to reduce flooding risk

Funding infrastructure

  • The implementation of a local infrastructure funding model to develop programmes of work rather than delivering projects on an ad-hoc basis, and to share the costs of infrastructure investment among all who benefit
  • Extending borrowing powers to the Scottish & Welsh governments, including the ability for the Scottish government to issue bonds
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships in England to be asked to focus more on the delivery of infrastructure to boost growth
  • Funding for public bodies should be linked to their implementation of best practice principles for procurement
  • Steps should be taken to streamline pre-qualification through the adoption of industry-developed standard questionnaires
  • Framework contracts should be procured in a way that does not disadvantage some contractors over others

Skills/Safety:

  • Provision of full funding for civil engineering apprenticeships at all levels, regardless of age
  • Increased funding for up-skilling and qualifying the existing workforce to aid retention and enable work in new and emerging markets
  • Expansion of the pre-apprenticeship model plus wider roll-out of the shared apprenticeship scheme to enable more businesses to train the next generation
  • Creation of an infrastructure labour and skills demand model to provide accurate intelligence by specialism and locality
  • Implementation of the recommendations of the Lord Young and Professor Löfstedt reviews
  • The formation of an independent body to adjudicate in disputes involving breaches of health and safety legislation

Environment:

  • The consolidation of existing environmental legislation
  • The creation of an oversight body to ensure uniform and appropriate application of environmental legislation
  • The creation of a legal requirement for construction design to incorporate measures to reduce waste

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