Five ways smaller contractors can benefit from Johnson’s ‘New Deal’

As COVID-19 restrictions ease, the government has pledged to build its way to economic recovery with the announcement of £5bn of capital investment in infrastructure and a commitment to building better, faster and more strategically than ever before.

CHAS explains how contractors of all sizes can make sure they don’t miss out on the building boom.

1. Get accredited

Supply chains are getting stricter and those higher up the chain are increasingly looking for evidence that contractors take their responsibilities around health & safety and other key compliance areas seriously. Accreditation by a third party body, such as CHAS, is one of the best ways to demonstrate your commitment to high standards and qualify for more work so congratulations if you have already achieved this.

Entry level options include health & safety and financial accreditation but in 2020 many contractors are upgrading to the Common Assessment Standard – a new industry led pre-qualification system based on a single questionnaire which covers a range of compliance topics.

CHAS was delighted to be the first accreditation body to offer the scheme when it was introduced in 2019 which means many members are already benefiting from being assessed to the new standard which is now being specified by leading employers including the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and HS2. A data-sharing agreement between Common Assessment Standard providers means contractors only need to take a single assessment with one rather than having to sign up to multiple schemes.

2. Be visible

Getting accredited and becoming visible go hand in hand because once you are accredited your company profile and accreditation status will be visible to a vast and ever expanding network of clients who will be able to instantly identify that you meet the standards required to work on their site.

When you qualify with CHAS, not only is your profile visible to X amount of CHAS Clients who regularly rely on CHAS’s database to source approved contractors, but CHAS is constantly working to build alliances to further promote the CHAS contractor database and help members build their businesses.

Recent developments include the signing of an integration partnership with specialist soft-ware provider, Causeway Technologies, which makes CHAS Contractors visible to Cause-way’s connected supply chain network along with the announcement of a partnership with the cloud-based supply chain platform, Local Supply Chain, to allow quicker and easier engagement of sub-contractors from main contractors and clients.

In addition CHAS has formed a working partnership with Checkatrade which helps in-crease CHAS members visibility to the consumer market.

And finally, the aforementioned data sharing agreement around the Common Assessment Standard means any contractors who meet the standard will automatically be visible via all participating accreditation schemes.

3. Demonstrate that you’re COVID-19 Secure

While some restrictions have eased recently, COVID-19 is still here and no one knows what the future holds. The government’s COVID-19 Secure guidance for the construction industry, combined with the Construction Leadership Council’s COVID-19 Secure Site Operating Procedures, gives a robust frame-work for the industry to operate in a way that is COVID-19 Secure but the challenge is for sites to be able to quickly and easily identify that everyone on site understands and is committed to following this guidance. And the HSE is undertaking spot checks to check compliance.

Consequently construction clients are looking for evidence that their contractors are committed to operating in line with industry guidance. To this end, CHAS has added a Statement of Best Practice (COVID-19) to its member packages, to make it easy for contractors to demonstrate that they are COVID-19 secure which includes confirming, and where appropriate, providing evidence that they have taken three key actions.

For contractors to comply they simply need to login to the contractor portal and upload and submit evidence to show they meet the requirements. Meanwhile CHAS clients just log on to the CHAS Client Portal and they can instantly see whether a contractor has completed their Statement of Best Practice (COVID-19). Filling out the Statement of Best Practice (COVID-19) is completely free.

4. Verify your workforce

Be prepared for construction employers to scrutinise your workforce as well as your company. Clients might want to know how you are sure every-one working for you is who they say they are, whether their qualifications are up-to-date and, in light of COVID-19, whether you are monitoring their health status. A simple solution is to allocate your employees a CHAS People digital wallet, a digital worker verification system.

To use CHAS People contractors simply purchase the required number of CHAS People digital wallets via the CHAS portal which enables them to invite employees to up-load their ID and relevant work related documentation. CHAS then verifies the ID documents using a government confirmed 12 point biometric check and tamper detection technology and a CHAS People digital wallet is issued.

As well as confirming the ID has been verified, the system collects and stores the worker’s documents and highlights where essential credentials are missing, sending automatic notifications when a credential is about to expire.

A recent extension to CHAS People is the CHAS People Health Wallet which makes it quick and easy to track a worker’s health status. The CHAS People Health Wallet enables workers to track symptoms and upload COVID-19 antigen or antibody test results to track their fitness to work if and when this is required.

5. Build your skills & take advantage of free support

Online training makes it easier than ever to up-skill from anywhere at anytime. If, for example, you fall short in any areas required to meet the Common Assessment Standard, an online course could bring your skill set up-to-date.

All CHAS Members gain access to CHAS’s e-learning portal, created in partnership with leading provider Human Focus which features a large library of industry-approved health and safety e-learning courses.

The per trainee fee for these recognised e-learning courses provides better value than the equivalent classroom option and a free training advisory helpline is available to guide con-tractors to the most cost-effective option.

CHAS members are also eligible for FREE Business Shield support which includes access to an online portal which has hundreds of step-by-step guides, model policies, sample forms & letters plus much more.

What’s more CHAS members can call for FREE expert advice on health and safety or environmental issues any time between the hours of 08:00 and 17:00 Monday – Friday, and there is no limit on how frequently members can call or any restrictions on the length of each call.

CHAS Managing Director, Ian McKinnon concludes:

“Sometimes smaller contractors assume they will be overlooked when it comes to large projects but this is not the case and as this article shows there is plenty that contractors can do to maximise their chances of qualifying for projects of all sizes. If contractors take these steps on board they will increase their likelihood of being awarded contracts as part of the government’s growth plans and be able to play their part in the nation’s plans to build faster and better and bounce forward.”

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