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The vast majority of architects can’t bid for public work: something has to change


Back in 2006 I included similar proposals in my RIBA Presidential election manifesto. The government of the time had a similar policy to the present government’s with regard to encouraging more small companies getting government and local authority work, though it was wrapped up in the brief fashion at the time for 'localism' - long since forgotten. But, typical of the political establishment that so often makes grandiose statements of good intentions, they invariably instigate detailed policies that make them impossible to implement. One of the main reasons for excluding small practices 12 years ago was the then policy, encouraged by the government at the time, for ‘term contracts’, i.e. bulk contracts for up to 3 years work. Inevitably only very large practices were in a position to bid for these and I dare say that’s probably still government policy today. I also questioned, at the time, whether it resulted in good buildings. Another complication at the time was PFI procurement, which again pretty well excluded most small practices. Although it’s still around, I believe that it is now much less used for small or medium sized buildings thankfully. So I wish Tarek Merlin good luck with his campaign, but I fear the combination of big business interests and politicians, and probably RIBA establishment lethargy, will see little or no meaningful change. More’s the pity, as it’s still much needed.

Posted date

20 February, 2019

Posted time

12:13 pm