The Department for Education has recently published revised guidance on the availability of Urgent Capital Support (accessible here) when faced with urgent works including works posing a significant health and safety risk. Included in the revised guidance is the following statement:
“Where it is determined that a trust can afford to fund the work via reserves, they will be expected to fund urgent projects independently, and are likely to have their applications declined.”
Academies will need to keep this in mind if there’s a need for urgent works to their school buildings. It’s also worth remembering that cost certainty is rarely fully achievable in construction projects. When it comes to repair works, the full extent of necessary works is often not known until the works commence, particularly if those works involve stripping out to assess the damage.
It is critical, therefore, that Academies procure works prudently (including in compliance with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 as applicable) and enter into construction documentation that appropriately protects against relevant risks. Good contractual documentation will rarely eliminate the risk of cost fluctuations but can go a considerable way to de-risk a project. Robust procurement and documentation will also throw into sharper focus the extent to which a contractor’s pricing accounts for risks.
If you are facing a need to undertake urgent works, do get in touch to have a conversation about the various contracting and procurement options available for you.
UCS is specifically for urgent condition issues that threaten immediate school closure.