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Frustration over £6bn frameworks

Contractors have been left sweating over two major public sector frameworks worth almost £6 billion.

Places on the £4bn ProCure 21+ health agreement and the £1.8bn PFI prisons framework were expected to be awarded this spring.

But with the change of government, and the subsequent scrutiny on public spending, both processes have been left to drift.

This has left the seven consortia shortlisted for the prisons work, the 11 firms competing for the health work, and scores of expectant subcontractors in limbo.

Emcor UK has provided mechanical and electrical services to hospitals and prisons. Emcor Engineering managing
director John Matthews told Construction News: “The sooner we can plan ahead the better. But we are realistic and we know we won’t find out until the Government is ready.

“All we have heard about the prisons framework is that it is part of the comprehensive spending review in October.”

Another source at a firm close to the ProCure 21+ process said: “The Department of Health said that whatever the result of the election, the framework winners’ approval would get to ministers within their first 100 days, which
would mean mid-August.”

The current framework, ProCure 21, ends on 12 September. The Ministry of Justice shortlisted seven consortia for the £1.8bn framework to design, build and operate five large PFI prisons in England and Wales.

Three established partnerships are on the list - Carillion with G4S; Interserve with Kalyx; and Skanska with Serco.
Balfour Beatty is teamed up with US operating firm Geo Group; Bouygues with Reliance Security Group; Laing O’Rourke with Mitie; and Wates with MTC.

Consortia that make the framework will compete to design, build and operate the 1,500 place prisons on 20 to 40-year PFI contracts.

The framework was designed by the former Labour government to help increase the prison system’s capacity to 96,000 places by 2014.

The MoJ has refused to say when winners will be announced. Seven of the eight incumbents of ProCure 21 are in the running for places on its replacement.

Balfour Beatty, Bam Construct, Interserve and Kier were all named on the shortlist last year. Laing O’Rourke, a Sir Robert McAlpine/Vinci joint venture and Medicinq - a consortium led by Midas and joined by Shepherd - are also in the running.

Four new names complete the shortlist - Willmott Dixon, Bovis Lend Lease, Miller and 2VB - a consortium of Volker Fitzpatrick, Thomas Vale and Henry Boot.

The Department of Health told shortlisted firms in May that the award of places had been put back indefinitely. A spokeswoman added this week: “The ProCure 21+ process is ongoing.”