Adherence to the principals of the government’s Prompt Payment Code does not appear to have been a factor. Balfour Beatty was suspended from the Prompt Payment Code last year and, unlike several other suspended contractors, has yet to be let back in to the scheme.
The Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) construction works and associated services framework agreement is available to all public sector organisations to find companies to help build schools, hospitals, offices, universities, prisons, housing and more. It is the first ever government-led construction arrangement for whole public sector. The framework is made up of 11 lots broken down into 38 sub-lots and runs for seven years.
Two months ago 128 companies were selected for 31 of the 38 sub-lots. Balfour Beatty, Britain's biggest construction company, was not among the winners at that stage.
Just before Christmas the CCS named the contractors for another four lots, including the prize lot five for projects valued at more than £80m. Balfour Beatty is among the 14 contractors selected for this lot.
The full list for lot five is:
- Balfour Beatty Construction
- Bam Construction
- Bouygues UK
- Bowmer & Kirkland
- Galliford Try Building
- Interserve Construction
- John Graham Construction
- Kier Construction
- Laing O'Rourke Construction
- Skanska UK
- Tarmac Trading
- Wates Construction.
The total number of contractors with a place on at least one lot or sub-lot of the CCS framework now stands at 136, with three more lots still to be filled.
These arrangements complement other CCS agreements for project management, facilities management, building materials and utilities. Purchasing bodies are told that they may use project bank accounts to reassure the supply chain but they are not obliged to.
The inclusion of Balfour Beatty in lot five comes despite its current suspension from the government’s Prompt Payment Code. But Balfour Beatty is not the only slow pay offender on the new CCS framework. John Sisk was not just suspended but expelled from the code last year and it has been given a place on three sub-lots (England South Construction Works £10m-£30m, High Rise Accommodation England North and High Rise Accommodation England South).
In July 2019 the then Cabinet Office minister for implementation, Oliver Dowden, stated: "From September 1st, 2019, any supplier who bids for a government contract above £5m per annum will be expected to answer questions about their payment practices and performance. If they are unable to demonstrate that they are paying 95% of invoices within 60 days, they may be excluded from the process.”
May be excluded… the man said. Or then again, maybe not. Empty words.