In the aftermath of the Carillion collapse, industry support for urgent reform to payment practices has reached unprecedented levels. A petition on fair payment and retentions, representing over 355,000 businesses, was delivered today to Prime Minister Theresa May by Peter Aldous MP and a delegation of industry leaders including FSB National Chair Mike Cherry, FMB Chief Executive Brian Berry, Director General of the Institute of Directors Stephen Martin, ECA CEO Steve Bratt and BESA CEO David Frise.
Supporters of the Aldous Bill and the petition on fair payments also gathered outside the gates of Number 10, including business owners directly affected by the collapse of Carillion in January.
Coordinated by leading industry trade bodies BESA, ECA and SEC Group, the petition urges the Government to back reform of payment practices and retentions. It comes just four days before the second reading of the ‘Aldous Bill’ (Friday 27 April), which proposes cash retentions be held in trust accounts, to protect the supply chain.
The Bill is supported by over 120 MPs and 76 industry trade bodies, representing over 355,000 companies and many self-employed professionals. Cross-party support for reform includes Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, DUP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party. Support has also been given from across the construction supply chain, including house building, roofing, scaffolding, electrical, heating, plumbing, interiors and demolition. (See below for full list).
Peter Aldous MP commented: “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.”
ECA CEO Steve Bratt commented: “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.”
BESA CEO David Frise commented: “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.”
Director General of the Institute of Directors Stephen Martin commented: “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.”