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CN Briefing: late payment; Build UK; Suzannah Nichol

It’s possible that 2016 will see the beginning of the end of late payment issues that drag the industry down.

I am basing this on two things: firstly, the government will force large companies to reveal payment terms; secondly, large contractors will now have those terms compared in a public forum.

As we revealed this morning, Build UK plans to take the payment information government will demand from contractors later this year and collate it.

No more: ‘we pay on time, but I know others who don’t’. No more: ‘why wouldn’t we pay on time, we need our supply chain’s innovation?’.

This is feet being held to the fire, and it will make a difference.

Contractors haven’t been keen on some of the league tables produced in the past.

They love finishing top of the monthly Glenigan league tables in CN. Some have been less thrilled to be compared in CN by their performances for Crossrail, Network Rail or what was the Highways Agency.

Indeed, Network Rail changed its reporting of league tables in response to contractor concerns after we published those tables.

These companies are ultra-competitive and know that clients or their subcontractors could look at a list and decide to work with a rival contractor who pays quicker.

But what about the clients?

Build UK’s chief executive Suzannah Nichol is lobbying government to specify when its projects are publicly funded and if they conforms to the fair payment charter (which will be relaunched in the coming weeks).

This helps on the public sector side, but more often than not it’s the private sector where tie one contractors face their own payment issues.

Will Build UK’s plans work? It’s too early to say. But it’s sufficiently impressed Nick Boles with its work on providing an industry voice on the future of CITB, another issue that promotes great hand-wringing in the industry.

I bumped into more specialists than main contractors at Build UK’s event at the Cheesegrater last night. Yet it is the tier ones who will need to come on board to make the industry best in class on payment.

But this, from Suzannah Nichol gives me hope that there is a turning of the tide on its way:

“Our job as Build UK is to change the industry. If someone comes and says ‘this isn’t fair’ then let’s talk about why it’s unfair.

“No one minds when they’re top of the table. Taking a bold and brave step forward always will be fraught with difficulty, but that’s not a reason for not doing it.”

Got 5 minutes?

See which companies have been shortlisted for the Construction News Awards 2016.

Aecom’s move into contracting gathers pace with a £40m resi win.

Got longer?

We’ve got an analysis on the future of PRS, as well as a Willmott Dixon PRS project report, take your pick. And by take your pick, I mean read both…

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