The Scottish Government’s recently announced £24bn infrastructure investment plan is a significant step forward for the country’s drive to stimulate post-Covid recovery.
From this, £2.8bn will deliver new affordable homes over the next five years. Not only will this bring essential social housing but it will also give a much-needed boost to the construction industry.
Together with 11 funding councils, we implemented our largest ever construction framework to support the public sector’s efforts to build new affordable homes throughout Scotland’s communities.
Scotland Excel has been developing construction frameworks for 12 years and our construction portfolio has adapted with the industry over that time to incorporate innovative building methods – including offsite construction and retrofit – creating more flexibility for contracting authorities. The portfolio now accounts for spend of around £760m per annum.
The new build framework builds on our experience and is live and ready to be used to underpin local and national efforts to deliver social housing.
It has been specifically developed to accelerate projects by significantly reducing the time it takes social landlords, including councils, to engage a contractor to build new homes.
It also helps buyers to find the best suppliers for projects ranging from small to large, including flats, sheltered housing, student accommodation, social rented and mixed tenure properties.
As well as being an enabler for national and local policies, public procurement also has a key role to play in delivering economic and social benefits.
At this crucial time when economic recovery is vital, the new build framework is good for local business. It reflects our commitment to supporting smaller businesses, with 70% of the suppliers awarded to the framework classed as small to medium enterprise (SME).
And there is a sub-contracting commitment included for suppliers to bring supported businesses and social enterprises into the supply chain where the work value is more than £1m.
These steps to open up opportunities for small, local organisations will bring social and economic benefits that can revitalise communities and bring lasting impacts. Scotland Excel has always been an advocate for community benefits being achieved through our frameworks – and new build is no different.
As councils and housing associations invest in projects through the framework, it will ensure a return on social value in several ways. There is a commitment from suppliers to pay the real Real Living Wage and to create employment and training opportunities.
While hugely challenging, Scotland’s recovery from the impacts of Covid-19 also brings significant opportunities to improve how we work and to do it in a much more sustainable way.
The Scottish Government’s new mission to ‘help create new jobs, good jobs and green jobs’ is something Scotland Excel celebrates and supports. Many of our frameworks already embody this – with all frameworks having sustainability as a key consideration at development stage. This is an area I am keen to do more on.
We have always evolved in line with the needs of our members, and as they work to address the problems caused by Covid-19, supporting their efforts to deliver local services with a stronger focus on community wealth building, is our top priority.
I look forward to working with councils and housing associations to support their new build projects and to underpin mobilisation of the government’s investment plan, through our framework’s lens of delivering economic and social benefits.
Working together through the recovery, we can help to ensure everyone has access to a safe, warm and affordable home.