The winners of the first round of HS2 contracts, worth up to £6.6 billion, have been announced.
Some of Europe’s largest construction companies, such as Carillion, Skanska, Balfour Beatty and Bouygues secured spots in the final shortlist. Whilst small and medium-sized (SME) contractors were not expected to win work in this round of contracts, it is estimated that for every ten direct (Tier 1) contracts, tens of thousands of supply chain opportunities are likely to be generated. These are the opportunities that will be of most interest to SMEs, being the best match for their scale of operations and their specific capabilities.
The procurement process for the indirect supply chain will take place on www.competefor.com, with HS2 guidance focusing on making supply chain opportunities accessible, collaborative and transparent with a commitment to pay all suppliers within 30 days. The Department for Transport states that ”around 60 per cent of the 7,000 supply chain contract opportunities are likely to go to small and medium sized business.”
Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the NFB, said: “The Government must ensure that this promise is kept, not just because the route will go through many rural communities, where SMEs are predominant employers, but because SMEs train two-thirds of construction apprentices. With 25 per cent of the construction industry set to retire within the next two decades, there is a real danger that projects will stall due to a lack of skilled workers.”
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, added: “Enabling SMEs isn’t just good procurement, it is the key to solving the skills crisis in our urban and rural communities.”
For further information on the NFB click here