Comment – You’ve been framed…

A new national demolition framework – valued at £1.56 billion – was announced this past week.

Now as someone that would happily sell his own grandmother for £20 (in my defence, she’s been dead for 20+ years and is long past her best) £1.56 billion is a lot of money. And I feel certain that bid teams across the land will be rubbing their hands together in fevered anticipation at the prospect of securing just a slice of that action.

Personally, I have a bit of an issue with frameworks. As far as I can see, frameworks merely serve to add yet more bureaucracy to a process that already has to contend with more red tape than the dedicated Red Division of the Acme Tape Manufacturing Company.

With that bureaucracy surely comes additional cost. I feel certain that Pagabo – the company administering this new national framework – are not doing so for purely altruistic reasons. Given that a lot of the work contained within the framework is publicly funded, is this not just placing further strain upon coffers already lined with stretch marks?

It is also worth remembering that even those companies that overcome the countless obstacles and hurdles that traditionally accompany these frameworks have no guarantee of work. They may have invested tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds to make it onto the list, only to see all the work handed out to rivals and competitors.

My biggest concern with frameworks of this nature is their potential to skew the demolition sector in favour of those bigger companies that already boast large and dedicated tender teams that deal with these things on a regular basis.

According to the statement that accompanied the announcement of this new demolition framework, some of the work will include the demolition of buildings of less than five storeys. Of the 600-odd demolition companies competing for work here in the UK, it’s safe to say that more than half of them would be capable of tackling work of that nature; a lot of them would have done so previously and would have the requisite experience required to do so again.

However, now that the bidding for this work now requires jumping through bureaucratic hoops, there is a distinct possibility that those smaller companies might not have the required bidding skills. In short, they may be capable of doing the work just as well as anyone else, but they can’t get on the list because they lack a dedicated tender team.

To make this matter worse, it is possible or even highly likely that bigger companies winning work will sub-contract it out to a smaller company anyway. While that does mean that some smaller demolition firms may benefit indirectly, this is yet another unnecessary cost.

Of course, £1.56 billion is most certainly not to be sneezed at. I have never knowingly looked a gift horse (or any other type of horse) in the mouth. And given all that the industry has endured these past 18 months or so, who am I to deny them a slice of this well-earned windfall.

But I am left with the feeling that both the public coffers and most demolition companies stand to lose out while the company administering the whole thing are sitting on a guaranteed winner.

(Just as an aside, I ran a poll on the subject of framework agreements on our Instagram feed this weekend and it appears that – not for the first time – I find myself at odds with popular opinions. Of the almost 3,600 people that took part on our poll, 71 percent said they believed framework agreements were a good thing)