The Department of Health has told shortlisted contractors that the award of places on the £4 billion ProCure 21+ framework has been put back indefinitely – but the move is not thought to constitute part of the new government’s spending cuts.
The 11 shortlisted firms were due to hear next Monday which six had made the cut for the coveted health agreement.
But the new government has delayed a decision, purely until the new health department is fully operational.
A source close to the Government said that, contrary to reports, no moves had been made to review the framework or the selection of contractors as part of the Conservative-Liberal programme for spending reductions.
A letter sent to all shortlisted firms, and seen by Construction News, said: “As you were advised at interview stage, there was always a possibility that the scheduled date for the award of framework places would have to be put back due to the unfortunate timing of the general election.
“ProCure 21+ must await an appointment of a ministerial team to determine whether there is a requirement for a briefing before moving forward. No alternative date has yet been set and has soon as there is further news we will let you know.”
One contractor source told Construction News: “They have been very open with us. There is no hidden agenda.”
Another senior source added: “The announcement of winners is being delayed since the award needs to be approved by the new minister. It is a protocol issue not one of principle.”
The shortlist of 11 contractors emerged in December – four months after more than 50 contractors received pre-qualification questionnaires for the six-year health agreement.
Seven of the eight incumbents of ProCure 21 are in the running for places on its replacement.
Balfour Beatty, Bam Construct, Interserve, Kier and Laing O’Rourke are joined by a Sir Robert McAlpine/Vinci joint venture, and Medicinq – a consortium led by Midas and joined by Shepherd.
Four new names complete the shortlist – Willmott Dixon, Bovis Lend Lease, Miller and 2VB – a consortium of Volker Fitzpatrick, Thomas Vale and Henry Boot.
Meanwhile, the new Department for Education insisted that there was no updated Government position on the £55 billion Building Schools for the Future scheme, which the Conservative party has long been expected to target for spending cuts.