David Rennie: Opening and operating Project Bank Accounts

David Rennie: Opening and operating Project Bank Accounts

David Rennie

David Rennie, relationship director, public sector & higher education Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, outlines the benefits of Project Bank Accounts in streamlining payments

Since the policy governing Project Bank Accounts (PBAs) for construction projects in Scotland was introduced in 2016 we have worked closely with Scottish Government to develop an understanding of the concept and a process to open and operate the accounts. Relevant public bodies must include a PBA in tender documents for public works contracts commencing procurement procedures from 19 March 2019 with an estimated value more than or equal to:

  • £2,000,000 for building projects
  • £5,000,000 for civil engineering projects

We have conducted numerous workshops and round-table discussions with Commissioning Public Bodies (CBP) and Main Contractors (MC) and now have plenty of PBAs open and in operation. Some Best Practice:

Make it clear in your procurement documentation that a PBA is required. No need to require completed paperwork up front unless the lead time between contract award and start is very short.

Early engagement with the bank regarding account opening is key although the process can’t formally start until a signed trust deed is provided. The main parties involved in the process are the CPB and MC. The sooner we get complete and accurate information from the CPB and MC on the necessary forms, the sooner we can open the account. To help this, we request that paperwork is returned promptly to keep the process moving and that an individual at the CPB is nominated as the key point of contact with the bank for account opening.

The Royal Bank’s online banking system Bankline is flexible enough to be configured to suit the payment process agreed between parties and restrict access to bank accounts to only those that require access. The most common setup is that both the CPB and MC have access to Bankline and are involved in the payment process. The MC providing payment amounts and details for every eligible sub-contractor and first authorisation of the payments and the CPB providing the final authorisation of the payments. As this is entirely online, the process can be completed in the same day if necessary, facilitating prompt payment to sub-contractors.

David Rennie was part of a line-up of speakers at Scotland Excel’s ‘Accelerating the delivery of affordable new homes’ conference in Edinburgh this week. The event was designed to bring local authorities and housing associations together with suppliers on Scotland Excel’s new £1.5bn New Build framework to explore key topics relating to the construction of social housing.

For more information on the framework, visit Scotland Excel’s website.

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