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James Review: contractors back PfS for 'central body' role

Contractors have backed the James Review’s proposal for the retention of a central schools procurement body – and urged the government to act swiftly on the report.

The government-commissioned taskforce, led by DSG International group operations director Sebastian James, today published its final report on a new schools capital system.

It calls for local authorities to be given more say on which schools projects were prioritised in their areas.

But it also says a central body should be given the task of procuring the schools work and making sure it is delivered to time, quality and budget.

The report says the central body’s use of standard designs and speedy procurement would allow up to 30 per cent to be slashed from the cost of schools jobs.

UK Contractors Group director Stephen Ratcliffe told Construction News: “Contractors will be pretty pleased with the report.

“There is a degree of centralisation in procurement, which is important because clients build a degree of expertise and learn lessons from one project to the next.

“It is sensible stuff. If our members were asked to draw up a shopping list of how to make the savings required, this report is pretty much what it would look like.”

He added: “We will be telling Mr Gove that this is decent stuff and now he should get on and implement it.”

One contractor source told Construction News he would like to see Partnerships for Schools continue in its role as the central procurement body under the new system.

But he added that the expanded responsibilities would require it to be “resourced effectively”.

The source also called for the government to make swift decisions on the proposals to “let people know where they stand”.

Education secretary Michael Gove said: “I thank Sebastian James and his review team for their incredibly hard work and PfS for their help with the review. I welcome this independent report and we will respond soon.

“The system we inherited had profound problems. We must have a system for school building which is much simpler, less bureaucratic, and which targets priority projects.”

Read what the James Review means for contractors - see Greg Pitcher’s blog.


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