Headlines about fines levied on the accountants that were supposed to be auditing the accounts of Carillion before its spectacular collapse in 2018 are far from the end of that affair. We await the details that will be revealed by a Financial Reporting Council (FRC) investigation into what happened to allow Carillion’s Board to escape a proper scrutiny that could have saved the public purse many millions of pounds and a lot of honest Carillion employees their jobs. But that is coming, if slowly.
Construction is under the microscope again for anti-competitive practices, this time for cover pricing in the demolition sector.
Little attention has been given to the proposed legislative shake up of the UK’s public sector procurement that went before the House of Lords for second reading in late May. This is surprising because public sector procurement accounts for over £350Bn a year, at least some of which is regularly accompanied by inefficiencies of legendary proportions.
Modern slavery is a hidden problem but one that the construction industry is known to be particularly exposed to. The sector’s demand for lower paid manual labour and its global, complex and often opaque supply chains make it an attractive target for human traffickers looking to exploit migrant workers.
Some encouraging activity has been seen on the public procurement front recently, all well reported on in Construction Law. Professor David Mosey’s recent report on frameworks has been a stand out contribution.
Just when you might have been excused for imagining that the discredited Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was dead as a construction procurement route, up it pops again.
Procurement related guidance and advice has been coming thick and fast in recent weeks. Almost hidden away at the end of the announcement about housing safety measures announced in Parliament by UK Secretary of State Michael Gove in January was publication of a new guidance document titled Collaborative Procurement Guidance for Design and Construction to Support Building Safety.
The construction industry will be at the centre of developments over the next generation to combat the climate change emergency; that much must now be clear after the COP26 meeting in Glasgow.
Much is happening on the climate change battle front, and the UK has pitched itself into the front line with wide ranging commitments to achieve net zero carbon by 2050, such as having all of our electricity to be ‘clean’ generated by 2035. This stance will attract worldwide attention with the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference heading for Glasgow in November.
Government’s latest National Construction & Infrastructure Pipeline detailing public sector procurement plans for the next ten years was released in September, representing the highest level of public sector infrastructure investment ever.