The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has become the first trade body to adopt a new industry agreed prequalification standard that promises to cut expensive and time consuming ‘red tape’ for contractors.
The new Common Assessment Standard, developed by Build UK and endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council, means suppliers will only need to be certified once a year by a single recognised assessment body before tendering for work with contractors and clients who specify it.
According to BESA, this is a “significant improvement on the current system” where different clients insist on their own prequalification questionnaires being completed meaning contractors are forced to duplicate time and effort. Build UK estimates this wasteful process costs the construction industry as much as £1 billion every year.
BESA Chief Executive David Frise said the new approach would transform the prequalification process and make it work better for both suppliers and clients. He said: “By streamlining the process and linking it to a pan-industry agreed standard, it will be quicker and simpler for good quality firms to demonstrate their business credentials and clients will get the reassurance they need.”
Build UK Deputy Chief Executive Jo Fautley said the new system was “a huge step towards more efficient working, which is more important than ever in the current challenging economic climate”.
She added: “Developing the Common Assessment Standard has been a collaborative effort, involving companies across the whole sector. There are already 10 major contractors and clients specifying it and we are delighted that BESA has become our first Trade Association member to adopt it as a part of its membership process.”
The standard has been made possible thanks to a data-sharing agreement with the three recognised assessment bodies: Achilles, CHAS and Constructionline.
The building engineering alliance Actuate UK has also put its weight behind the new standard, which it said was “an example of how cross-industry collaboration could deliver efficiency improvements for the whole construction supply chain”. Build UK is also working with the government on having it adopted for public sector projects.
“The introduction of data sharing means the long-awaited industry-wide solution to prequalification waste is now in sight,” said BESA’s Director of Certification Rachel Davidson. “Having an industry approved, single standard will also make it more appealing to main contractors and end clients. We encourage all public sector and commercial clients to embrace this ground-breaking development.”