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Councils slow to act on tender revolution

NEWS - Local Government Task Force finds Rethinking Construction progress slow

LOCAL authorities are making mixed progress towards embracing Rethinking Construction principles, a new procurement survey has found.

The Local Government Task Force's study of 78 local authorities revealed that 65 per cent had let none of its last three contracts on price alone.

But a third of councils said that cost was the only factor considered on two of its last three tenders.

The results were at odds with responses from the 85 per cent of council chief executives who said they worked to procurement strategies stating that contracts should not be let on price alone.

Local authorities are expected to spend around £11 billion this year, making them one of the biggest clients of the construction industry.

The Government is looking to councils to make annual spending reductions of 2.5 per cent as part of its National Efficiency Review.

Around 70 per cent of respondents said they set targets and incentives for their contractors but 47 per cent of councils said that they did not encourage innovation among contractors by offering incentives.

The survey also found that commitment to improvement principles varied with the types of construction work authorities procured.

Seven in 10 local authorities had procured their last three highways capital works deals using quality criteria as well as cost but this figure falls to 54 per cent for building capital projects.

And those with a larger budget - dealing with building projects schemes worth more than £10 million - perform no better on this principle than those procuring smaller deals.

Capital sectors are also less likely to have long-term relationships with their contractors than repair and maintenance works, while highways departments are also likely to be more confrontational with their contractors.

LGTF chairman Tim Byles said: 'We have worked with authorities across the UK to educate, support and encourage procurement efficiency.

We look forward to continuing to engage more councils and to drive forward greater efficiency.'