You may be aware of the Public Sector Construction Playbook, which was first published by the Cabinet Office in late 2020 (and updated in September 2022). Created by the Construction Leadership Council, working with the industry, it set out guidance and expectations for public works contracting, with an aim to transform the procurement of publicly funded projects. It is mandatory for central government and arm's length bodies on a ‘comply or explain' basis.

In late 2022, this was followed by a new private sector playbook “ Trust and productivity: The private sector construction playbook – November 2022” (“the Playbook”).

The Playbook was published by the Construction Productivity Taskforce, a collaboration between contractors, professional consultants and industry clients which was set up by ‘Be the Business' – a not for profit with the aim of helping businesses improve performance.

Building on research and feedback on the Public Sector Playbook; the Playbook aims to address:

  • the very real issue of lack of productivity in the construction industry (according to new research by Oxford Economics, UK construction productivity growth has fallen by an average of -0.6% each year between 1997 and 2019, as compared to growth in the whole UK economy over the same period of 2.8%) and low profit margins;
  • lack of openness, trust and innovation;
  • the fragmented supply chain; and
  • the need for sustainability.

The Playbook initially sets out a series of ‘non-negotiable priorities' which must be the focus of every project and include health, safety and wellbeing, building safety, sustainability and value to society. It follows by setting out ten drivers for success that should underpin any project. These drivers run across nine chapters (and follow a project from concept to delivery and beyond). They are:

  1. Formation of effective partnerships;
  2. Adoption of portfolio and longer-term contracting;
  3. Adoption of an outcome based approach;
  4. Embedment of digital information technology;
  5. Early involvement of the supply chain;
  6. Benchmarking objectives;
  7. Fair and appropriate allocation of risk;
  8. Fair pay;
  9. Assessment of the economic and financial standing of suppliers (i.e. doing due diligence); and
  10. The promotion of innovation and continuous improvement.


The Playbook fundamentally differs from its' public sector counterpart because compliance with the Playbook is not mandated. It therefore remains to be seen just how much notice the private sector will take of its recommendations. However, it delivers a compelling argument for change, with clear ideas for how that change can be achieved. It is particularly timely following the introduction of the Building Safety Act and the clear need for fundamental behavioural change throughout the industry.

The Birketts View

An aspirational document which should be read and considered by all involved in construction projects. In our view it is certainly one of those things where, if everyone involved in construction projects read it and considered and implemented the suggestions where relevant; real change and increased productivity (and therefore profits) could be realised.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.