Smaller contractors are being urged to apply for places on the Education Funding Agency’s new £6bn schools framework.

The agency is currently consulting on the new deal after previous framework deals were criticised for being too main contractor heavy.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders said: “We are strongly encouraging members with experience in school building to sign up for the EFA construction framework.  Regional SMEs have local communities at heart because they employ, train, and invest money locally and represent value for money. For every £1 spent with an SME, 90p remains in the local economy.”

Just 10 builders were placed on the existing £4bn national framework three years ago.

Industry bug guns like Balfour Beatty, BAM, B&K, Carillion, Galliford Try, Kier and Sir Robert McAlpine secured placed on both north and south geographical lots.

The EFA said the exact set-up of the new £6bn construction framework has still to be finalised but under present plans around 30 places would be available for contractors across several lots.

Interested firms must register their interest at the EFA web portal no later than 6 June.