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Specialists seek sharper teeth in payments review

NEWS

THE SPECIALIST Engineering Contractors Group urged the Government to go further in its efforts to speed up a solution to industry payment rows at a Department of Trade and Indust ry meet ing on changes to the Construction Act last week.

The group made its case at a consultation event attended by more than 100 industry representatives and construction minister Alun Michael.

DTI proposals published last month laid out plans for a certificate to be included in contracts that plainly sets out the sums owed for work.

Subbies would have the right to apply to main contractors for payment if the certificate is not issued.

But the SEC Group believes the DTI should go further in making payment applications a statutory right rather than including the provision in contracts.

Chief executive Rudi Klein said: 'If we don't have a statutory right to apply for payment then all we are doing is tinkering around the edges.

'The DTI is trying to solve this with more contract law but there are plenty out there which aren't even compliant with the Construction Act anyway.

'They are going to have to go away again and rethink these issues.' The SEC will step up its parliamentary lobbying efforts to sway MPs as well as highlighting issues dismissed by the DTI's consultation response, including payment protection in cases of insolvency and abolition of cross-contract set-off.

It is understood that the DTI will publish its proposed amendments to the Act in May.