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Quarter of councils failing to use recommended procurement route, survey finds

Councils have been warned they are wasting thousands of pounds in procurement costs after a freedom of information request found that more than a quarter do not intend to use a government-mandated PQQ template.

According to research from the Electrical Contractors’ Association, 27 per cent of English local authorities have no plans to use the so-called PAS 91 standards on PQQs.

A further 18 per cent of councils said they either didn’t know whether they used them or were undecided, while less than a third (31 per cent) currently use PAS 91.

The standards were launched in October 2010 and were the first to include questions on bidders’ health and safety competence.

ECA director of business services Paul Reeve warned councils they could be “inviting trouble” if they did not use PAS 91.

“The fact is, if you don’t use it then you’re legally non-compliant,” he told Construction News. “If you take on a contractor with health and safety duties and you’re not prequalifying them against their capabilities then you’re just inviting trouble.”

He added that councils were “wasting money and wasting money from the industry” by using different procurement standards.

“There’s a whole bunch of recalcitrant councils out there that want to do their own thing,” Mr Reeve continued. “But PAS 91 is seen in the industry as the answer to the PQQ issue.”

Mr Reeve said one of the reasons councils may be reluctant to adopt the standards was that they can “see they have drifted out of date”. He added that they do not reflect the latest Construction Design and Management regulations (CDM 2015).

“There’s an issue about getting it [PAS 91] up to date quickly so it can imbue confidence again,” he said. “We need to get it fit for purpose so there’s no excuses for councils.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman confirmed that the department was looking to update the standards. The spokesman said: “We’ve simplified bidding for government contracts by mandating the use of standardised wording for PQQs within government.

“We’re always looking at ways to level the playing field for suppliers, and are in the process of updating the standard to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of users.

“We continue to advocate its use and work to embed the approach within government is ongoing.”


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