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RIBA’s school PFI model finally gets the thumbs-up

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The government could adopt the RIBA’s proposed Smart PFI model for its £45 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme – despite having previously branding it illegal

In a surprise move, Partnerships for Schools chief executive Tim Byles said the review would ‘consider and build’ on the RIBA’s proposed model. The body, in charge of the government’s schools investment programme, is re-examining its procurement process to cut timescales and reduce costs.

Under the RIBA proposals, which were first mooted three years ago, local authorities would appoint their own team to develop exemplar designs for the sample scheme in their BSF bid process. This would mean less duplication of effort from rival bidding teams.

Byles said: ‘There remain a number of issues to resolve in terms of deliverability […] While not insignificant, these need not be insurmountable.’

Ruth Reed, president of the RIBA, said: ‘A good procurement process starts with good preparation by the client [and] Smart PFI was the RIBA’s proposal to bring these principles to Public Private Partnerships while adhering to European Procurement Rules.’

It is the second review of the process in two years. It is claimed the first ‘tweak’ reduced costs by £250 million

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