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Progress on retentions

MORE and more local councils are moving away from the hated practice of taking retentions from contractors, a Construction News survey has found.

The survey of local authorities across England, compiled using the Freedom of Information Act, found that 31 councils had deducted over £27 million in retentions from firms on current contracts.

But several major councils including Manchester, Birmingham and Wolverhampton, said that they were moving away from the practice by setting up long-term framework deals with firms in areas such as education and housing to encourage more partnering on construction projects.

The amount of retentions unclaimed by firms or tied up in disputes was £1.7 million.

The findings are more positive than a similar survey last year, which found that councils were still letting 80 per cent of contracts at the lowest price.

Rudi Klein, chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group, which has been campaigning for the abolition of retentions, said: 'It has been a long road but there are signs of improvement.' n See Agenda, pages 10-11