Nine contractors have been selected to work on the Government Hubs Programme, which has a potential value of as much as £1bn over the next four years.

The Government Hubs Programme is overseeing the structural reorganisation and transformation of the current office estate, particularly the tax offices.

HM Revenue & Customs is being reorganised from 170 local offices into 13 regional centres. These regional hubs will also house civil servants form other government departments.

From an open tender, nine contractors have been selected for the framework to undertake fit-out works for the Government Hubs Programme.

Lot 1 is for projects nationwide valued at more than £25m.

Lot 3 is for projects in the south valued at below £25m.

Lot 2 is for projects in the north valued at below £25m.

Mace, Interserve, Overbury and Wates are on all three lots. The full list of chosen contractors is:

  • Mace (lots 1,2 and 3)
  • Interserve Construction (lots 1,2 and 3)
  • Overbury (lots 1,2 and 3)
  • Wates Construction (lots 1,2 and 3)
  • BAM Construction (lots 2 and 3)
  • ISG (lots 2 and 3)
  • Shaylor Group (lots 2 and 3)
  • BW Interiors (lot 3)
  • Styles&Wood (lot 2).


One of Britain’s major housebuilders is to prefabricate up to a quarter of its homes in a factory, in the latest attempt by the construction industry to tackle the housing shortage.

Berkeley Homes, which builds 4,000 homes a year, is planning to create a facility in Kent next year where builders will work to produce up to 1,000 houses and apartments annually which will then be craned on to sites.

Another company, nHouse, is setting up a factory in Peterborough with the capacity to build 400 homes a year, complete with light fittings, bathrooms, bookshelves and kitchens. Production is expected to start in January.

It claims it can build a house in 20 days in the factory which can then be erected on site in half a day. Several other developers, including Legal and General and Urban Splash, have also launched prefab home divisions.

Fears of a shortage of skilled construction workers caused by an ageing workforce and an exodus due to Brexit are part of the reason for the revival of prefabrication, which last provided a significant number of homes after the second world war.

The government has set a target of building 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the next decade. Despite recent increases in activity, the last annual figure was 190,000.

A Berkeley spokesman said: “We have acquired a 10-acre brownfield site from the Homes and Communities Agency to build a factory for modular homes in Ebbsfleet, Kent. This will have the potential to deliver up to 1,000 homes a year.

“Construction of the factory could begin next year. While the speed of production and the impact on skills and labour are important factors, our real driver is the quality we can achieve with modular housing.”

The nHouse has been designed by the architect Richard Hywel Evans and is made in four modules from engineered pine panels which are transported on the backs of lorries and are then clipped together on site and connected to pre-existing services. Its built-in features include solar panels, a robot vacuum cleaner and even a drone landing pad – looking forward to a time of aerial deliveries.

A three-bed house is on sale to developers or individual householders from £170,000 to £185,000, which is about the same price as a standard house built using wet trades.

Nick Fulford, the director of nHouse, argues that with 100 workers operating on an indoor production line rather than on muddy building sites in the elements, the homes will suffer from fewer snagging problems.


Major construction projects can play a critical role in improving workers’ understanding of health risks and championing ‘universally high standards’ across the industry, new research suggests.

A three-year research project, funded by IOSH, aimed to explore the management of health, safety and wellbeing interventions on the Thames Tideway Tunnel project.

Members of the research team from Loughborough University were integrated into each of the construction teams working on the Tideway project and monitored key health and safety processes, personnel, documentation, events and activities.

In a paper titled ‘Raising the bar for occupational health management in construction, published in the Institution of Civil Engineers’ journal Civil Engineering, the research team highlights practical measures from the Tideway project to help stakeholders improve the management of health risks in construction.

The Loughborough team suggests major projects have an important role to play in upskilling the workforce, and that construction managers must take responsibility for health risk management, supported by skilled OSH and health professionals.

Interventions included working with occupational hygienists to improve understanding about health risks and how to manage them and coordinating training sessions for project managers, engineers, supervisors and others who contribute to risk assessments focusing on practical control measures.

Alistair Gibb, Professor of Construction Engineering Management at Loughborough University, said: “The construction industry faces many unique challenges when it comes to managing health risks and protecting workers. Across the industry there is poor understanding about the standards of health assessment which are legally required and low motivation among many employers to pay for health checks for workers who may soon move to other employers.

“Major projects such as Tideway are critical to developing universally high health management standards and are well-placed to champion good OH services and to use their expertise and influence to embed change within their own supply chains. To achieve long-lasting improvements, these standards must be adopted throughout the sector, particularly within the SMEs which employ the majority of the workforce.”

The study suggests a consistent approach to occupational health management and health surveillance is needed across the construction industry with a commitment to improved portability of OH data.

The researchers also argue that health needs to be given higher visibility and clarity at prequalification and in tender documents.

Steve Hails, Director of Health, Safety and Wellbeing at Tideway, said: “Our commitment to transformational health, safety and wellbeing standards at Tideway is intended to set a new benchmark for the industry. Achieving parity between health and safety is a strategic objective for our programme and understanding the specific challenges emerging in the course of construction is imperative to our future direction.

“The support from IOSH and Loughborough University has been invaluable in identifying our progress. This unique approach to conducting a longitudinal study with skilled researchers embedded into our construction teams, has allowed us to compile legacy information in real time rather than, as has historically been the case, at the end of the project. This gives Tideway objective feedback during our works and informs our future direction.

“There are additional wider industry benefits for future projects to learn from our experiences through this approach and realising the benefits of industry working collaboratively with academia during the planning and construction phases of work.”

Mary Ogungbeje, Research Manager at IOSH, said: “This research goes a long way towards addressing what is a very prevalent and complex issue in the construction sector.

“For health to truly be treated like safety in construction there needs to be a shift in the perception and practices of employers and workers, and acceptance in industry that high standards should not be an exceptional practice but the necessary norm.

“The study highlights practical measures to help all stakeholders address barriers and improve the management of health risks in construction.”

An additional recommendation from the research includes further training for frontline workers, particularly to compensate for low visibility of health hazards including noise and respirable dust, and greater awareness of health conditions with long latency periods, including those caused by silica dust and asbestos exposure.

IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign aims to explain the causes of occupational cancer and help businesses take action. Information about the dangers of silica dust, asbestos and other carcinogens and how to prevent exposure is available on the website:

The paper, titled ‘Raising the bar for occupational health management in construction’ is published in the Institution of Civil Engineers journal Civil Engineering. The research is funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). The paper is available here:

In a second paper, published in the journal Safety Science, the research team explore in more detail the challenges to achieving lasting improvements to worker health in construction, this is available here:

Alex Phillimore Communications Officer +44 (0)116 257 3254 / +44 (0)7980 004494