A collective of specialist construction industry trade bodies and MPs has presented a petition calling for urgent reform of payment practices to Number 10 Downing Street.
The petition, organised by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) and Specialist Engineering Contractors (SEC) Group, came ahead of the second reading of the ‘Aldous Bill’ this Friday.
The Private Members’ Bill calls for cash retentions to be held in trust accounts to protect the supply chain.
It has the support of over 120 MPs and 76 trade bodies.
Yesterday, the petition was delivered to Prime Minister Theresa May by Peter Aldous MP and a delegation of trade body heads including ECA chief executive Steve Bratt, BESA chief executive David Frise, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) chair Mike Cherry, director general of the Institute of Directors Stephen Martin, and Federation of Master Builders (FMB) chief executive Brian Berry.
Meanwhile supporters of the Bill, including business owners directly affected by the collapse of Carillion in January, gathered outside the gates of Number 10.
Peter Aldous MP said: “This is an unprecedented opportunity to improve the industry for the better, level the playing field for SMEs and protect thousands and thousands of jobs.
“Construction is an essential underpinning of our lives and work, and we need to support the industry and especially SMEs to ensure future growth and prosperity.
“The industry loses around £1m for each working day, mostly from SMEs. There have been proposals to stop the abuse of retentions before, but this time there is the largest coalition on fair payments ever.”
Bratt said: “The show of support today shows that fair payment is a top priority for our industry. We need urgent government action on payment and retentions to protect the supply chain, and to ensure our industry can deliver growth and prosperity.”
Frise added: “The government will surely want to be seen to protect SMEs and to ensure the construction industry is sustainable so it can deliver its ambitious plans for housing and social welfare. SMEs are crucial to the government’s built environment and infrastructure programme.”
“Retentions and delayed payment put thousands of firms at risk of insolvency and undermine their efforts to invest in skills, training and improved productivity.”
Martin said: “Late payment is an issue for companies in many sectors, but retentions in construction is one particular area where bad practice is all too common. Having worked in construction for most of my career, I know how much it can affect smaller firms if payment is unfairly held back, so I am very happy to support this Bill.”