Trade bodies back CN payment survey

Two leading trade bodies have thrown their support behind Construction News’ payment survey and called on specialist contractors to share their experiences of being paid.

The anonymous survey asks subcontractors about the terms and timings of payments from tier one contractors, as well as issues relating to discounting and retentions. The survey, which only takes five minutes to complete, will be used to inform CN coverage on payment in the industry.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “This industry survey will help shine a light on the issues facing smaller companies in the supply chain. I urge all levels of contractors to participate.

“A consistent cashflow is vital for SME builders who operate to tight margins and therefore rely on prompt payments. SME builders are often at the end of the supply chain and can find themselves being paid late due to payment issues further up the chain.”

Rob Driscoll, director of legal and business at the Electrical Contractors’ Association and member of the Cabinet Office’s Small Business Advisory Panel, also urged members of his trade body and other subcontractors to take part.

“As somebody who has spent a career advising over 4,000 subcontractors on a melody of issues, there is one common factor – payment stops while the issue is resolved, which means project delivery is jeopardised,” he said.

“Double-digit inflation, steadily climbing interest rates, skills shortages together with the ripples of post-Brexit isolation and recovery from Covid, have led to extremely volatile trading conditions. Unsurprisingly, we’re now seeing soaring insolvency levels because the economic uncertainty in a tightening market breeds hardening commercial behaviour.

“Some will say payment behaviour is improving, but that is a conclusion based on half the data and therefore half the picture. [Statutory payment] reports only measure the average speed of payments, not the average value of payments made.

“We therefore need CN to uncover the truth about payment, retentions, project bank accounts, payment technology etc. We welcome CN’s investigative journalism.”

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