Blog: Scotland Excel: Building value for local authorities and the construction sector

Julie Welsh

Scotland Excel director Julie Welsh on how its construction procurement frameworks have changed over 10 years to help deliver greater efficiencies and increased economic and social impact.

The construction industry is essential to the prosperity of any nation. In Scotland, public contracts are needed to develop an infrastructure for services such as health, transport and education which we all use and value. Jobs in the sector support the sustainability and well-being of communities across the country. More than 200,000 Scottish workers depend on the construction industry for their livelihood.

The Scottish Government’s 2013 Review of Scottish Public Sector Procurement in Construction envisioned “an approach which achieves better collaboration in design-led, efficient and effective public sector construction procurement and which has regard to sustainability”. I believe that the work of Scotland Excel is helping to make this vision a reality.

As the Centre of Procurement Expertise for local government, we manage a portfolio of 12 construction frameworks to support the requirements of councils and other partners. Taken together, these frameworks account for 34 per cent, or £372m, of the overall value of Scotland Excel’s £1.1bn contract portfolio.

This year, we celebrate our 10-year anniversary. Over time, our tried and tested approach to forging links with our partners has cemented our credibility in the construction sector and increased the number and scope of our frameworks. Everything we do is developed in Scotland, with our members and for our members, delivering £7.4m in savings to councils each year along with social and economic benefits for their areas.

Our impact in the construction industry has been the product of a careful evolution in line with the requirements of our partners. We support suppliers to access competitive tendering exercises, helping to increase their understanding of procurement and providing an opportunity to grow their share of public sector contracts.

In the beginning, our frameworks dealt mainly with the construction tools of the trade for local authorities. Over time, we expanded these to encompass construction services and we now offer eight frameworks covering a wide range of complex construction-related services.

One example is our innovative framework for demolition services which was the first of its kind in Scotland. It helps facilitate the regeneration of our towns and cities while providing a crucial environmental benefit by ensuring that up to 95 per cent of materials removed from sites are recycled.

Another is our engineering consultancy framework which responds to the increasing number of City Deals announced across Scotland. This framework helps to support the huge infrastructure investment required and facilitates sustainable economic development.

Affordable housing is a huge area of need. To help meet Scottish Government targets to deliver 50,000 homes by 2021, including 35,000 for social rent, we recently announced a new build housing framework that will help to deliver these much-needed new homes. It will help councils and housing associations find the best suppliers to build affordable housing across the country, shortening project timescales and securing best value.

Alongside this, we have an energy efficiency contractor’s framework, our largest ever contract opportunity. It was designed in partnership with stakeholders to help meet national policy goals of reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions. The arrangement provides a quick and efficient route to market, enabling access to contractors offering a range of efficiency improvements.

The breadth of our comprehensive construction portfolio reaches into disparate areas like designing, building and maintaining outdoor play areas, and supplying furnishings for temporary accommodation. Both actively address a social need by promoting cohesion and social welfare in local communities.

One advantage of working with Scotland Excel is the unrivalled scope of our work. We pool our knowledge across all contract areas – such as transport, roads, environment and social care – so we can continue to raise the bar on sustainability, community benefits, and economic and social value. This is why councils actively use our frameworks and continue to partner with us in the development of new areas.

Our construction portfolio promotes quality, social and economic impact, and innovation to help our members ready themselves for the future. Over the coming years, we will further secure our place in the vanguard of procurement innovation by responding to changing expectations around public service delivery. For example, we are conducting research into district heating and electrical vehicle charging in response to emerging trends.

Our experience ensures that we understand the needs of local authorities and the construction sector across Scotland. Our ability to evolve our portfolio of frameworks in line with the changing requirements of local authorities and partners is testament to our strength. We look forward to building an even brighter future in the years ahead.

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