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Retentions crusade targets Parliament

NEWS: Constructors Liaison Group hopes to capitalise on recent support from 115 MPs

LEADERS of the industry's specialist contractors are launching a fresh assault on the government to stamp out the use of the loathed retention system on public sector projects.

The Constructors Liaison Group is drawing up plans to lay down a second early day motion when parliament reconvenes in a bid to outlaw the system in public sector contracts.

It follows the association's successful anti-retentions early day motion put before Parliament in May, which attracted 115 signatures from MPs across all the major parties.

John Nelson, executive secretary of the CLG, said: 'We have already found a sponsor for the early day motion but we're unable to release his name at the moment.

'We're hoping to drum up more parliamentary support this time around and we will also notify the National Audit Office. The government cannot ignore the wave of support we are generating.'

The move forms part of the CLG's battle plan to drive the retention system out of the public sector procurement process. It believes that the government must abolish the system under its commitment to becoming a best practice client through the Achieving Excellence scheme.

Mr Nelson said that the CLG was also seeking a meeting with the Department of Trade and Industry select committee to raise the issue.

It is estimated that at any time around £3 billion is tied up in outstanding retention payments.

A survey into the system will be included in an Office of Government Commerce review of government procurement methods, which is due to start in the autumn and last around six months.

A senior source at one subcontractor said: 'We are working for a house builder that has said half of the retention payment would be released on completion and the other half after two years.

'The sum in question is a significant chunk of the actual payment and, although it was stated in the tender documents, it's outrageous that our firm will have to wait this long to claim back the money we are rightly owed.'