The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is in talks with leading social housing maintenance contractors over the possibility of forming a trade body to advise it on procurement in the sector.

The six leading contractors are Kier, Connaught, Mears, Inspace, Mitie and Morrison. It is understood that all are involved in the plans.

The OGC is talking to the companies and to local authorities over collaborating to improve the procurement of maintenance work. One possible outcome is the formation of a trade body with which the OGC can discuss the subject.

The OGC’s director of construction and facilities management is Peter Woolliscroft, the former head of the Department of Health’s Procure 21 framework. He said: “The discussions are at an early stage but we are excited about the possibilities of closer collaboration.”

The move has been prompted by recent changes in the sector. As refurbishment work undertaken as part of the decent homes initiatives is completed, public sector clients are looking to let contracts for the long-term maintenance and management of estates.

We are excited about the possibilities of closer collaboration

Peter woolliscroft

The formation of the body will be helped by consolidation in the social housing sector. Landlords are increasingly looking to outsource their maintenance and capital expenditure programmes in longer-term integrated packages that are less suitable for smaller firms.

The existence of fewer, larger companies will make it easier to formulate coherent policies.

It is understood that the firms are keen for the group to be chaired by a representative from the OGC, to add to its authority.