Trade body blasts local councils for blocking small builders from winning public sector contracts

Suzie Neuwirth
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Most public sector work goes to larger construction firms (Source: Getty)

Local councils are blocking smaller builders from winning public sector work, an industry body has claimed.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) cited new research from the Electrical Contractors’ Association that shows over two thirds of local authorities are not using a simplified pre-qualification questionnaire that is easier for the supplier to complete.

The FMB argues that by not using these types of standardised procurement tools, it is harder to apply, which favours larger firms who have more resources and time to do extensive paperwork.

“It’s no wonder that construction small- and medium-sized enterprises struggle to win public contracts, when even at the first hurdle, local authorities are failing them,” said Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB.

“Using standardised pre-qualification questionnaires like PAS 91 is crucial for reducing costs and ensuring that smaller companies have a level playing field in bidding for public sector contracts.

“This is why central government has mandated the use of this system and the Local Government Association has backed its use by local authorities.

“Without a consistent template, even the preliminary stages of a bid become resource intensive, lending an unfair advantage to the larger contractors who have the capacity to absorb paperwork.

“For smaller construction companies – 40 per cent of whom fail to win nine out of 10 public sector contracts – it creates another unnecessary barrier to what used to be an important market for them.”

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