Council introduces mental health scoring in procurement

A council has announced it will consider the mental health policies of construction companies during procurement, in a bid to tackle the industry’s high suicide rate.

Halton Borough Council, near Liverpool, will now require main contractors to outline in their bids for jobs how they will look after the mental health and wellbeing of their staff and subcontractors.

It is the first local authority in the country to take such an approach and follows a call, first made in 2022 by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Issues Affecting Men and Boys, to write mental health safeguarding into contracts.

The council’s executive voted in favour of the policy on Thursday (14 March). At the meeting, it agreed to score statements on mental health from main contractors and to incorporate the scores into the bidding process.

A council spokesperson told Construction News that it is too early to say whether the local authority will be looking for particular measures to be included, mandate them later or leave it up to companies to put forward ideas, and that the details are still being worked out.

Some 507 construction workers took their own lives in 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics – the highest rate of any industry.

The policy adopted by Halton Council last week noted that local government commissions more than £18bn of construction work every year, so councils can exercise some control over working practices.

Council leader Mike Wharton said: “The suicide rates of young men working in construction are shockingly high and it’s time to do more [to prevent it].

“Asking contractors to consider the mental wellbeing of their staff, and making this a prerequisite of being awarded contracts, will help make inroads into the challenge of reducing the numbers of suicides and people experiencing mental health issues at work.”

He said he hoped other councils would adopt similar policies.

Former Everton and England footballer Trevor Steven, who is an ambassador for construction tech company Causeway Technologies, met with Wharton and council chief executive Stephen Young at the Halton leisure centre construction site to discuss the industry’s approach to mental health.

The company is lobbying local and national government to ensure mental health, health and safety, and social value procurement conditions are included in contracts.

Wates is the contractor on the leisure centre scheme.

Framework provider Pagabo committed to introducing mental health provisions in its contracts in November 2022, but a CN analysis last month found that no other organisation had followed its lead.

New Foundation Counselling chief executive Marc Preston said at the time: “If you want something done, you have to create an obligation for people to do it.”

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing mental health difficulties, the Lighthouse construction industry helpline can be called for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 03456051956 in the UK and 1800 939 122 in the Republic of Ireland. Or visit for help and information.

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