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Industry unites to bring fair payment petition to PM

A petition on fair payment and retentions, representing over 355,000 businesses, was delivered on April 23 to Prime Minister Theresa May by Peter Aldous MP and a delegation of industry leaders.

The delegation of industry leaders present the petition on fair payments to Number 10 Downing Street. Left to right: David Frise (back), Brian Berry, Stephen Martin, Steve Bratt (front), Mike Cherry, Peter Aldous MP, and Lord Aberdare.

In the aftermath of the Carillion collapse, industry support for urgent reform to payment practices has reached unprecedented levels. 

Among those present on the day were FSB national chair, Mike Cherry; FMB chief executive, Brian Berry, director general of the Institute of Directors, Stephen Martin; ECA chief executive, Steve Bratt; and BESA chief executive, David Frise.

Supporters of the Aldous Bill and the petition on fair payments also gathered outside the gates of Number 10, and included business owners directly affected by the collapse of Carillion in January.

Coordinated by leading industry trade bodies BESA, ECA and SEC Group, the petition has urged the Government to back reform of payment practices and retentions. It came ahead of the second reading of the ‘Aldous Bill’, due on Friday April 27, 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 sectors.

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.”

Mr 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.”

“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,” said Mr Frise.

He continued: “Retentions and delayed payment put thousands of firms at risk of insolvency and undermine their efforts to invest in skills, training and improved productivity.”

Mr Martin added: “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.”

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