Last month, LHC Procurement Group released Prior Information Notices (PINs) notifying prospective tenderers of three upcoming decarbonisation and retrofit frameworks – one each for England, Scotland and Wales. The framework will be a valuable source of revenue for businesses providing energy, heating and insulation solutions.
The previous version of the framework, titled Energy Efficiency Measures and Associated Works (N8) had a total value of £800 million across England, Scotland and Wales. In addition to supporting the government’s Net Zero by 2050 target, these programmes also deliver much-needed improvements to the UK’s housing stock, which is among the least efficient in Europe.
We have extensive experience tendering for high-value frameworks, with notable successes over the past few months including supporting clients to gain a place on Procure Partnership’s National Contractor framework (total value of £8 billion) and Pagabo Mechanical and Electrical Solutions framework (total value £545 million).
In this blog, we explore what the LHC framework’s scope of works will comprise, which businesses will be able to bid and how you can begin making initial preparations to support a high-quality submission.
About the framework – objectives and workstreams
LHC have introduced the framework to deliver a range of retrofit and decarbonisation works to achieve net zero targets. Currently, 26 million UK homes require some form of retrofit works, 4.5 million of which are social housing. Although the full scope of the framework is still being finalised, the PINs have identified seven workstreams to be carried out in residential and non-residential buildings:
|Workstream 1||Building insulation and passive performance|
|Workstream 2||Heating systems|
|Workstream 3||Control and management systems|
|Workstream 4||Solar photovoltaic panels and electrical works|
|Workstream 5||Servicing and maintenance of current renewable systems|
|Workstream 6||Multi-disciplinary retrofit works|
|Workstream 7||Retrofit and decarbonisation consultancy services|
LHC representatives are hosting an online market engagement session scheduled for 20 September at 2pm, giving potential bidders further information and the opportunity to ask questions. According to available information from the PINs, the estimated date the contract notice will be published is 4 January 2024.
Can SMEs bid for work?
Each tender has different minimum requirements – typically, a mix of adequate insurance levels, quality or health and safety credentials (such as ISO 9001) and minimum levels of turnover. However, public sector procurement laws such as Public Contract Regulations 2015 are carefully designed to reduce unnecessary barriers to become a provider. This means the size of your business will not be a competitive disadvantage.
The government is also committed to creating more opportunities for SMEs to become suppliers. After the central government has missed its targets for the eighth consecutive year, we may see increased focus on creating a level playing field, with the upcoming Procurement Bill set to further simplify public sector procurement and improve access to opportunities.
LHC are also keen to integrate SMEs into their supply chain. A December 2022 article from LHC’s website emphasises the importance of framework agreements for SMEs, offering ‘routes to public sector clients which would otherwise be hard to reach.’ Market engagement sessions will give small- and medium-sized businesses further occasions to ask for more information and support, giving them added confidence once the opportunity goes live.
What will the tender quality questions include?
While the official tender pack has yet to be released, we can make reasonable assumptions about what the question set will consist of, based on the framework’s scope of works and our experience assisting on hundreds of heating, energy and insulation SQs and ITTs.
- Mobilisation plans for all aspects of the contract – such as resourcing, supply chain, health and safety arrangements and communication procedures with the client – ensuring a smooth transition in advance of the framework’s ‘go-live’ date.
- Resourcing arrangements your business would be able to commit to the framework, including a contract manager serving as a day-to-day point of contact for client representatives, appropriately trained and qualified operatives/engineers, and a strong and resilient supply chain.
- Quality assurance processes and procedures, ensuring you have capacity to deliver works in accordance with the framework specification. Typically, this involves outlining your suitably skilled and experienced contract team, details of audits and inspections, and methods for minimising recalls prior to handover.
- Scenario-based questions detailing how your organisation would manage and respond to certain events. For example, bidders bidding into Workstream 5 – Servicing and maintenance could be required to answer how they would attend a responsive repair at an out-of-hours time in a rural area.
Quality questions may also come with strict word limits, requiring bidders to be concise when persuasively answering all aspects of the question.
How you can prepare for the forthcoming tender
Although the estimated January 2024 date for opening the tender window seems far away, the more time you dedicate to ensuring adequate preparations, the higher your chances of a successful submission. As a starting point, consider making time for the following actions:
- Ensure your resourcing is sufficient: Although framework agreements do not guarantee a set volume of work, it is important to ensure you have plans in place to deal with expected volumes of work. In addition to staffing, a framework place would mean increased requirement for specialist materials, such as building management systems, photovoltaic panels and air source heat pumps. Revisit SLAs or explore new supply chain options to eliminate any chance of shortages.
- Consider gaining additional certifications and qualifications: Industry-recognised certifications such as CHAS, Constructionline and the ISO suite are beneficial to the bidding process, allowing you to demonstrate your organisational capability. Furthermore, upskilling operatives to relevant qualifications, such as BPEC air source heat pump qualifications, will expand your resourcing options.
- Begin identifying potential social value initiatives: LHC are committed to embedding social value within their works and services, with a Community Benefit Fund used to support local needs and objectives within each geographic region. Your initiatives could include offering jobs or apprenticeships to deliver works on the framework, volunteering for local charities, donations or in-kind contributions to community projects, or environmental pledges, such as reducing carbon emissions by a certain percentage during the contract term.
Supporting you with an LHC bid
Once LHC release the official tender documents, we can assess our scope of works and provide you with a free, no-obligation quotation. Our bid and tender services including writing, reviewing and social value support, with further options to create a bespoke bid package to your organisation’s unique requirements and the opportunity.
This is further supported by our experience bidding for LHC frameworks, with services including:
- Fire Safety (FS2) – £140 million total value
- Public Buildings Construction and Infrastructure (PB3) – £1.6 billion total value
- Multi-disciplinary Consultancy Services (MDC1) – £500 million total value.
If you would like to find out more about how we could support you with the upcoming LHC framework or any other heating, decarbonisation and retrofit works, our sales and marketing team are contactable at 0800 612 5563 and via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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