The Government has published an updated version of its Construction Playbook for central government procurement. This guidance is intended to bring together expertise and best practice for successful construction and infrastructure projects. Suppliers are expected to pass the principles and policies set out in the Playbook down through their supply chains.

There are 12 chapters, each setting out best practice for specific topics with 14 key policies. The key policies are the reforms or actions which are expected to have the greatest impact in improving the delivery of projects. The policies are mandated on a ‘comply or explain’ basis and will be enforced through spending controls.

Commercial developers (particularly larger organisations) may also be interested in the Playbook, as the policies are intended to represent best practice for procurement of projects.  

The Government notes that productivity growth in the UK construction industry is stagnant; since 1997 the annual rate of improvement in productivity has been 21% lower than the wider economy, undermining the value of investments made by both public and private sector clients. The industry faces further challenges with comparatively low levels of capital investment, limited innovation and increasing workforce pressures.

The Government intends to use its position as the single largest construction client to support the adoption of a more productive and sustainable business model within the UK construction sector.

The Government also aims to:

  • Improve building and workplace safety 
  • Progress towards its 2050 net zero commitment to reduce carbon emissions
  • Promote social value, to help level–up local communities, tackle economic inequality, promote equal opportunities, enhance training, skills and employment opportunities and improve health and wellbeing

In summary, the Playbook policies are:

1. Commercial pipelines

2. Market health and capability assessments 

3. Portfolios and longer term contracting 

4. Harmonise, digitise and rationalise demand 

5. Further embed digital technologies

6. Early supply chain involvement 

7. Outcome-based approach to specifications

8. Benchmarking and Should Cost Models

9. Delivery model assessments

10. Effective contracting

11. Risk allocation 

12. Payment mechanism and pricing approach 

13. Assessing the economic and financial standing of suppliers 

14. Resolution planning

The Government has also published a new guidance note on Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), to provide practical guidance for departments on the contractual and delivery elements required to deliver infrastructure and construction projects using platform approaches and MMC.  The guidance note includes a best practice case study, describing a 'product platform' for delivering low carbon buildings.  Again, while the guidance is directed at central government departments, it may also be useful for the wider public sector and larger commercial developers.