Major contractors are rolling out a new common assessment standard aimed at radically reducing the £1bn spent a year checking out supply chain providers.

Balfour Beatty, Costain, HS2, Mace, Multiplex and Skanska have signed up to the new pre-qualification system where just one certification is required for tenderers.

Build UK deputy chief executive Jo Fautley said: “It’s been a collaborative effort, involving companies across the whole sector, and the new system is a huge step towards more efficient working, which is more important than ever in the current challenging economic climate.”

The new system is thanks to a new data-sharing solution enabling contractors and clients to obtain key pre-qualification data from recognised assessment bodies: Achilles, CHAS and Constructionline.

The common assessment standard is an industry-agreed question set with two levels of certification – desktop and site-based. Companies can apply to any recognised assessment body to get the appropriate level dependent upon their trade, size and requirements of their clients.

Government set to adopt new standard

Build UK created the new system with the support of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association. The Construction Leadership Council, CLC, is seeking its adoption throughout government construction procurement including the construction playbook.

Interim cross-industry body chair, Neil Mant, who has overseen the development of the new system, said: “We have not only eliminated a huge amount of costly duplication of effort but also raised the bar in assessing the competence of the supply chain.”

CLC chair Andy Mitchell said: “It is a real and practical way of reducing bureaucracy and improving quality in the industry and it comes at just the right time. 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.”

Quick bridging loan brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said property development finance lenders were keen on any new measures which speeded up the tendering process for builders.

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Shiraz Khan