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What’s new with pre-qualification: the Common Assessment Standard

The rollout of a new data-sharing agreement between Common Assessment Standard providers increases the benefits of using this pre-qualification scheme. Ian McKinnon explains
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The data-sharing agreement for the Common Assessment Standard is a step forward for the construction industry and comes as positive news after what has been a challenging period for so many. The efficiencies offered by the new agreement should provide further incentive for the industry to embrace the scheme.

Since its launch in 2019, the Common Assessment Standard has fast become the construction industry’s gold standard for prequalification (PQ). Led by Build UK, the scheme has been designed to replace multiple assessment schemes with one comprehensive industry-agreed questionnaire, based on existing prequalification questionnaires, including PAS 91.

Previously the PQ system was complex and repetitive, with an estimated 180,000 specialist contractors required to produce over two million pieces of paper every year for 5,000 contractors at a cost of up to £1bn. The Common Assessment Standard cuts through this inefficiency while helping the industry manage risk across a wider range of criteria such as sustainability, modern slavery and financial performance.  

Who specifies the Common Assessment Standard?

As the Common Assessment standard is resetting a long-established system, a phased approach is being taken to its rollout. This allows companies to adopt the Common Assessment Standard at a time that suits them; however, it has already gained strong support from both the public and private sectors. The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) requires that contractors appointed to its seven-year framework assess their supply chains using the Common Assessment Standard, and it is expected to feature in the details of the government’s new Construction Playbook. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) also supports the scheme.

Many major contractors have also moved swiftly to specifying the new standard, with this figure expected to rise now that the data-sharing agreement is in place.

What’s the relevance of the data-sharing agreement?

The first accreditation body to offer the Common Assessment Standard was CHAS in 2019, via the CHAS Premier and CHAS Premier Assured packages. Although contractors could now take the assessment with other approved assessment bodies, the data-sharing agreement means the details of everyone who passes the assessment can be accessed via any of the providers, regardless of which assessment body carries out the audit. For CHAS contractors, this means they only need to complete the Common Assessment Standard once a year with CHAS to qualify for a wide range of work rather than having to sign up to multiple schemes – saving time and money.

Diverse Team of Specialists Inspect Commercial, Industrial Building Construction Site. Real Estate Project with Civil Engineer, Investor and Worker. In the Background Crane, Skyscraper Formwork Frames. Image: Adobe Stock
Image: Adobe Stock

Meanwhile, clients looking for pre-qualified contractors simply specify the Common Assessment Standard to find contractors accredited to a single, consistent industry-agreed standard. Clients can access a database of these contractors via the services of any of the assessment bodies – such as the free CHAS Client Portal.  

Why choose CHAS?

As well as being the founder of third-party accreditation and a trusted authority on supply chain risk management, CHAS is renowned for providing a friendly and efficient service and high customer satisfaction levels.

CHAS contractors receive additional benefits such as access to e-learning resources, discounted fuel and shopping schemes and business insurance. CHAS is also committed to helping contractors who are not yet ready to complete the Common Assessment Standard to work towards higher levels of accreditation

Meanwhile, it is free, quick and easy for clients to sign up to the CHAS Client Portal where they will also find a suite of complimentary supply chain management and procurement tools. 

How can you find out more?

Contractors and clients who want to find out more about qualifying for, or specifying, the Common Assessment Standard and how CHAS can help, should visit or call 0345 521 9111

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