July 03, 2023

Suffolk County Council Construction and Building Services Framework – Q+A

Suffolk County Council and Concertus are delighted to announce the evaluation of the new Suffolk Construction Framework 2023 is complete.

What is Concertus’ role in the Framework and can you give a brief overview of the process that was involved in successfully launching the next iteration?

Concertus manages the Framework on behalf of Suffolk County Council.

The process for launching the next iteration involved publishing a PIN (Prior Information Notice) on Suffolk Sourcing and via Find a Tender Gov.UK. There was also a launch presentation held at the Suffolk £ event at Trinity Park at the end of 2022. The presentation was a chance for us and the Council to present the overall aims and objectives of the new iteration. Shortly after this, a Selection Questionnaire was issued and interested parties were invited to submit responses to these questions ensuring PAS91 compliance and the required level of financial and health and safety standards were met. These responses were analysed and approximately 12 contractors were invited for each lot to tender for the Framework. An invitation to tender was issued to the successful contractors who were then required to submit both cost and quality information and were scored accordingly by Concertus in partnership with Suffolk County Council, resulting in eight contractors successfully being appointed for Lot 1 and six contractors for Lots 2-5. This Framework also saw the introduction of two new Building Services lots.

What is the purpose behind the new lots that are now on the Framework?

To meet the increased need for decarbonisation, supporting planned maintenance requirements and infrastructure upgrades, the purpose of the new lots is to provide a more direct route to the market for energy-efficient installations thereby supporting the best value approach to procurement for Building Services projects. This can include PV panels, EV charging points, Air Source Heat Pumps and other specialised works required by clients in the drive to achieve Net Zero by 2030 and to support the maintenance of existing building stock.

How did contractors show they could align with Suffolk County Council’s Net Zero aspirations?

The responses were overwhelmingly positive, with contractors providing evidence of their journey and positive undertakings to assist Suffolk County Council in hitting their Net Zero by 2030 targets. Some of the contractors have already been supporting the Council in decarbonising communities, and there has been a real sense of collaboration between everyone, with lessons learnt being shared with all parties. This in turn has helped our design teams go above and beyond in improving the product we can offer.

The contractors have thought long and hard about operational and embodied carbon and how they can reduce that. Using modern methods of construction is also playing a part, considering product selection to ensure what is being used is sustainable, now and in the long run benefitting the council in achieving Net Zero by 2030. All partners demonstrated that they have been considering how to reduce emissions, especially during the construction process, putting in place clear reduction plans.

Biodiversity must also be considered, as we all look to maximise the opportunity on every site delivered through the Framework.

Social Value is high on the agenda in the industry now – how did the contractors go about showing their commitment to it and how did you score this?

Contractors were asked to demonstrate their alignment with the Suffolk County Council Social Value Ask and ongoing commitment to supporting local communities. This included evidencing their social responsibility credentials and illustrating how they are reducing their carbon footprint, supporting local economic growth, and improving jobs and skills through ethical employment, training, and apprenticeship offerings. Their submissions were scored on their ability to support Social Value initiatives and incorporated into the overall scoring matrix for the final award.

Social Value is high on the agenda in the industry now – how did the contractors go about showing their commitment to it and how did you score this?

There is a misconception that as it is the Suffolk County Council Framework, only Suffolk County Council can benefit. However, any other bodies defined as Public Contracting Authorities within the East of England, whether that be Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Essex, Bedfordshire, or Hertfordshire can access and benefit from using it.

This encompasses a variety of public sector bodies including any government department, district and borough councils, other county councils, blue light, the NHS and health authorities, higher and further education providers, academy trusts, schools, and the Ministry of Defence. There are other areas too, which we are happy to discuss, so please reach out to us with any query and we will be happy to help.

What are the benefits of using the Framework outside of Suffolk County Council?

Using the Framework provides several benefits. Firstly, the Framework meets with the public sector procurement regulations, providing a compliant route to the market. Additionally, there is certainty around the cost of procurement as fixed lump sum access charges are in place ensuring any post-contract variations do not incur additional, unnecessary, or hidden costs post-procurement. The Building Services lots and the ability to directly appoint also offer great flexibility in ensuring the right contractor for each project type can be procured while all the successful contractors have demonstrated a proven track record of working with Public Sector clients across a variety of schemes.