Framework team talks to Building’s Jordan Marshall about its two new frameworks worth £13bn

Scape has launched two new construction frameworks worth a total of £13bn.

The organisation’s procurement team have spoken to Building to explain the new framework, how it differs from the previous iterations of construction frameworks and how issues such as sustainability and MMC have been discussed. 

Adrian Hill, director of operations, John Simons, head of procurement and audit, and Chris Clarke, performance and improvement director, all spoke to Jordan Marshall about the new deals.

Scape launches £13bn construction frameworks

The headline figure, £13bn across two frameworks, is eye-catching particularly in the current climate. What has led to that jump in value?

construction site

Scape has announced £13bn of new frameworks

Adrian Hill (AH): Just to put it into perspective, my strategy now is to procure in a category rather than separate frameworks. So this is a construction category. It also includes all previous construction frameworks that we previously did including minor works. So while the national construction suite was worth £7bn you need to add in what was minor works at £1.5bn. So that brings it up to £9bn. It really just is a step upwards in terms of the construction categories.

It is obviously building on some of the successes of the original one and there will be broader range of services. The other reason why it’s going to be larger is the way the lotting structure is going to formulate. And that will in essence, enable us to be dealing and working with more contractors. So as you can imagine, it gets to a point where we are a single contractor model [a single contractor per lot] that the contractors delivering and can only deliver a certain value of scheme. So as soon as you want to go beyond that you end up with more contractors. The main reason for that is the fact that is a category framework, not just an individual national and minor framework.

What we’re trying to do is  provide the ability for clients to exercise choice, but to exercise that choice quickly

When you talk about the lotting structure, is that a reference to parallel lots which seems designed to give clients more choice? Could you explain that?

John Simons: Basically, the lotting structure overlaps itself. So for the same geographical area and the same value there will be awards to separate contractors on seperate lots [and the client can select which contractor it wants from either lot]. That negates the need of the client having a mini competition. If you want to exercise choice, you will be able to direct award. If you like ABC building company as opposed to XYZ building company you can do that.

That seems to give clients a bit more flexibility, should it also streamline procurement for them?

AH: When we were thinking about what to do next it’s not a case of just what we learned over the last few weeks, we’re constantly getting feedback over the four-year iteration of all our frameworks. One of the things that clients have been quite vocal about is that they like and use Scape because of the speed to market and the ability to direct award, but they also want choice.

With the current way in which frameworks are set up you can’t have both really, we used to overlap them a little bit between the £10m and £20m-mark where you can potentially choose Willmotts or Wates, but that’s only for that very narrow band. Whereas what clients are wanting is choice across everything. What we’re trying to do is  provide the ability for clients to exercise choice, but to exercise that choice quickly. So all it is really is a simple case of having two lots, sat alongside one another, where you still have the single contractor on each, so that if a client wants to, they can exercise choice. It’s a simple thing really but novel as well.

There are seven lots on the £11bn framework, what are they?

AH: We are simply dividing them up into a lower band, or works of a range of naught to £7.5m and upper bands from £7.5m to £75m. There will be what we call a principle works lot that is for projects worth £75m-plus. That’s for England and Wales, in Northern Ireland, it’ll be slightly different and there will just be an upper and lower lot.

The difference this time around is that we are actually separating out and providing Northern Ireland with its own lots. We haven’t had that before. It’s always been lumped into England and the UK in some cases. So what that provides is the ability for Northern Irish businesses, who are based over there to be delivering and working with us directly for the first time, not under the auspices of a another contractor. I’m looking forward to that. I think that’d be really, really good and good for the clients over in Northern Ireland.

You’ve got two lower lots in England and Wales. Two upper in England and Wales, that’s four. You’ve then got principle works for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, five, and six and seven are lower and upper in Northern Ireland.

What about the £2bn framework in Scotland?

AH: There are four more in Scotland. The market for higher value works is not really there in Scotland. Works of say £100m-plus, there are very few of them and when they are around, they’re very much government-led, so we’re not going to apply a separate principle works lot in Scotland. What we’re going to be doing in Scotland is again having the parallel lower value naught to £7.5m lots, so there will be two of those, and then a parallel upper value that’s just £7.5m-plus. There’s no limit. So there’s four lots, two lower, two upper.

There are some pretty stretching requirements - we know that climate emergency is very, very real

One of the things that was highlighted was “making digital standard”. What does that mean in practice what that actually means for firms?

Chris Clarke (CC): There’s an aspect of recognition in the capability and capacity of BIM that the marketplace has really matured to the point where the capability to do BIM level two projects is certainly in the contractor cohort we want to recruit for this framework. It’s almost a post BIM framework. There is an expectation that all of the contractors working there are pretty advanced. It’s for contractors for the new normal if you like.

Are there certain requirements contractors looking at these frameworks will have to have from a sustainability perspective?

CC: We’re responding to a marketplace that has a very clear view that it wants to do things differently. A huge number of our customers are local government, and a huge majority of local authorities have declared a climate emergency. So that’s reflected in the new policy.

And we’re setting a bar and saying that the supply chain will need to be able to deliver services for the clients with that stringent aspiration. It doesn’t mean all clients will come to the framework with those expectations for their projects but we know that we’ve got to procure a supply chain that can deal with the context of the climate emergency. There are some pretty stretching requirements in there as a result of not pulling punches, because we know it’s necessary. We know that climate emergency is very, very real. 

You say there are going to be things in there that are quite stringent? Can you give any examples of what that means practically?

CC: The clearest and simplest indication with Nottingham City Council, one of our local authority owners, and their carbon neutrality target for Nottingham City is 2028. That’s the context of what we are procuring and we can’t ignore that.

What sort of role will offsite contractors or MMC contractors have in terms of this framework or are there going to be different frameworks that will cater for them?

AH: What we need to make sure is that clients have the full choice of operations. Over the last 15 years we have always worked with traditional contractors, your household names. But they are very much now heading down the road of looking at modern methods themselves, because that’s what clients demand both in their specifications and their brief. We will be questioning the ability of providers to be able to deliver that kind of thing.

But also, I don’t want it to be one size either, because there’s still a need and a want for a lot of clients to get on more traditional routes. But let’s be honest, there’s not many MMC or modular providers that can cover nationally the kind of scale that we’re procuring here, there’s simply not the demand and simply not the supply to be able to do that at the minute. That’s not to say that that may not come in the future. And if it does, then yes, we’ll look at that and either bolt something on or create something new.

CC: We recognise that solving the client’s problems is what’s required, not necessarily telling them what the answer is at the start, and the real focus is in responding to the client’s project strategies. MMC is often a good answer but what we don’t want to do is prejudge that for individual projects. One client will have a focus on one thing and another on another. So we want to make sure the supply chain that gets engaged can deal with answering those questions.