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Prisk slams public sector procurement

Construction minister Mark Prisk has slammed public sector clients for procurement methods that stand in the way of small construction firms winning work.

Speaking at Ecobuild 2011 this afternoon, Mr Prisk said public sector procurement was too complicated at present and that he wanted to see it simplified.

He said he was working with cabinet office minister Francis Maude to boost small firms’ chances of competing for construction work.

Mr Prisk told CNplus: “Francis and I both take the view that we need a much greater flexibility in how we procure. We need standardisation and simplification so new and smaller firms can get in.

“One of the problems you have now is that there are lots of purchasers in the public sector behaving in ways which make it very difficult.

“We need to make the process simpler, reduce the pre-qualification process and allow people to compete.”

He added that tackling existing contracts to try and get the best possible value was also a priority for government.

Mr Prisk said he was unable to discuss Budget measures that would aid green refurbishment but that “hopefully on 23 March there will be some encouraging news”.

Speaking about the release of the Carbon Connect Energy Efficiency Report, which called for businesses to be given discounts on rates based on their energy efficiency, Mr Prisk said he would be “wary about simply going down the route of business rates because there are other crucial aspects for business”.

When asked by CNplus if he supported calls for retrofit tax incentives, Mr Prisk said 20 per cent VAT was a substantial cost in any project, particularly in refurbishment. He said the government was trying to get the right financial mechanism and could not ignore the taxes and charges that made up those costs.

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