THE COMMON ASSESSMENT STANDARD has fast become the construction industry’s gold standard for prequalification. The prequalification standard is accepted by many main contractors and public sector organisations.
The scheme replaces a complex and repetitive PQ system that involved multiple assessment schemes with one comprehensive industry-agreed questionnaire.
The Standard was launched in 2019 and updated in 2021 by Build UK with the support of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association.
The new assessment is based on existing prequalification questionnaires, including PAS 91. However, it is designed to also help the industry manage risk across a wider range of criteria. These include sustainability, modern slavery and financial performance.
The rollout of a new data-sharing agreement between the Common Assessment Standard’s three recognised providers in March 2021 means the benefits of qualifying for and specifying the scheme are greater than ever.
Ian McKinnon, Managing Director of CHAS explains what contractors need to know about the new scheme.
You only have to take one assessment annually
The Common Assessment Standard’s new data-sharing agreement means the details of everyone who passes the assessment can be accessed via any of the scheme’s providers, regardless of which assessment body carries out the audit.
This means contractors only need to complete the Common Assessment Standard once a year with their chosen assessment provider to qualify for a wide range of work, rather than having to sign up to multiple schemes – saving time and money.
CAS opens up new employment opportunities.
Balfour Beatty, Costain, the HS2 joint venture partners, Mace, Multiplex and Skanska are already specifying, or set to adopt, the Common Assessment Standard. That list is likely to grow with the introduction of the data sharing agreement.
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) also 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.
There are multiple business benefits
Contractors who meet the Common Assessment Standard will find they qualify for numerous additional business benefits. For example, contractors who take the assessment with CHAS receive benefits such as access to e-learning resources, discounted fuel and shopping schemes and business insurance.
The Common Assessment Standard is suitable for SMEs
There are two levels of certification: desktop and site-based. Companies apply to a Recognised Assessment Body for the certification level that is appropriate for their business. The level is based on factors including trade, size and the requirements of their clients.
For companies that employ fewer than 10 employees and have a turnover below £1.8 million or a balance sheet total less than £1.8 million, the assessment standards will be applied in a proportionate way.
You can work towards the Common Assessment Standard
Some of the risk management criteria covered by the Common Assessment Standard will be new for many businesses. CHAS will help contractors build on their compliance level so that those contractors who are not yet ready to complete the Standard can work towards higher levels of accreditation in the future and build their competence and their business.