Hidden Long Term Cost of Austerity – Warning

Published: 12th October 2011

Hidden Long Term Cost of Austerity – Warning

Public sector organisations are sacrificing best value in pursuit of low prices with potentially significant long term budgetary costs, according to a new warning.

In the face of significant financial pressure many local authorities, schools and RSLs are issuing contracts on price alone, something which Swish Building Products warns could cost the public sector hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The roofline specialist reports, in particular, that it has seen a growing number of roofline maintenance and refurbishment programmes awarded to unsuitable and unskilled contractors based on price.

Greg Wilde, Swish Building Products, said: “In the past few months cut backs appear to have really started to bite. We’ve seen more contracts awarded to less skilled lower cost suppliers but most worryingly suppliers without any relevant experience or suitable qualification at all.

“For example, we were recently asked to help out on an installation where initial works had been awarded to a decorator who having been appointed by a social housing provider to paint the exterior of a number of its properties then tendered for and won on price, the roofline refurbishment contract.

“They encountered a number of difficulties and installation became very problematic, leading to additional cost and disruption. They’re not alone – price is becoming an increasingly determinate factor for many RSLs and local authorities.”

Swish Building Products has supplied the social housing sector for more than 20 years offering best value through partnering arrangements, quality products and full technical support.

Products include fascias and soffits, guttering and cladding systems, for refurbishment or new-build, while Swish Building Products also operates a specialist Commercial Contractor scheme, which puts local and education authorities, along with social housing providers in touch with experienced and reliable roofline installers.

Wilde continued: “The downturn and austerity measures are essentially having two main impacts. We’re seeing a lot of cash-strapped public sector organisations who are trying to extract all they can from squeezed maintenance budgets and contractors who may be short of work and more inclined to try their luck at work which they simply aren’t qualified to undertake.

“That’s a dangerous combination, one which undermines the principles of Best Value but very fundamentally means that the public sector and not least the tax payer isn’t getting value for money.”

Swish Building Products holds a host of accreditations and standards most recently the new BES6001 standard ensuring responsible sourcing of construction products. This comes in addition to the quality management standard ISO9001, the environmental management standard ISO14001 and occupational health and safety OHSAS18001.

Wilde concluded: “The majority of public sector organisations are responsible and are committed to best value but the temptation to make finite budgets go a little bit further can be great.

“We’d simply urge maintenance mangers to think about the long term costs of working with unqualified partners and conversely the long term savings a good job well done can deliver, especially in roofline where the specification of PVC can near enough eliminate ongoing maintenance costs.”

For more information on Swish’s full range of rainwater, roofline and cladding products visit http://www.swishbp.co.uk/  or call 01827 317 200.

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