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New Construction Policy Notes (CPNs) - Coronavirus (COVID-19): new projects and reopening public construction sites

The Scottish Government has issued two new Covid-19 Construction Policy Notes (CPN) relating to preparing for new projects and reopening public construction sites and guidance for contracting authorities on managing disputes and project restart.

CPN 3/2020 sets out matters for contracting authorities to consider when making preparations in readiness to implement procurement procedures for new projects and reopen public construction sites which are currently closed due to restrictions for mitigating COVID-19. Note that this CPN is NOT an instruction to reopen closed sites or to begin work on new sites where the project is not for essential work.

CPN 4/2020 sets out how contracting authorities can address the management of disputes held over from site suspension arising from COVID-19 and such matters emerging on any project upon restart.

Both CPNs are part of a suite of procurement guidance related to COVID-19, which includes the following:

The construction sector is currently in reset mode, moving towards restart. CPN 3/20 builds on advice in CPN 1/2020 relating to the response and reset phases. It provides guidance to assist contracting authorities restart construction activity through quick and established routes to market in order to help stimulate a safe, orderly and effective transition towards economic recovery.

With many business continuing to be impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, CPN 3/2020, advises that Contracting authorities should progress towards procurement procedures where it is clear industry can respond, assisting contractors to plan, schedule and restart operations as soon as safely practicable. Particular consideration should be given to identifying the quickest possible routes for new projects to progress through procurement to start on site in order to help stimulate effective sectoral recovery.

The second Construction Policy Note: CPN 4/2020 sets out how contracting authorities can address the management of disputes held over from site suspension arising from COVID-19 and such matters emerging on any project upon restart. Contracting authorities can take steps now to progress outstanding final accounts and inject fresh impetus into settling disputes in order - where possible - to reinforce main contractors’ and, by association, supply chain cash flow.

Cashflow is more important than ever to the supply chain in current circumstances. Contracting authorities should ensure that progress payment valuations are fair and reasonable should ask the contractor to show that they are also paying their subcontractors as regularly, as promptly and as fairly. Recurring caution may hasten insolvency which otherwise would not have happened and have wider implications for project deliverability, subsequent market competition and the industry’s broader recovery.

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