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Workloads, rival bids and procurement are biggest industry concerns

A major survey has found workload shortages, below-cost bidding and bureaucratic procurement to be the biggest concerns facing contractors.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association’s half-yearly survey of infrastructure contractors has found that declining workloads are the biggest concern among those in the industry.

33 per cent of respondents said that workload shortage was their main concern, up from 26 per cent in January.

The contractors warned that the difficult economic climate was threatening the UK’s infrastructure capacity, with one respondent warning that “unless something is done, and done quickly, the number of SMEs who won’t survive is frightening”.

Contractors have warned that increasingly bleak trading conditions are putting the future of the UK’s infrastructure sector at risk, as pressure from clients pushes companies to the edge.

Rivals pricing bids for work below cost was reported as the next biggest concern to CECA members, with 17 per cent of respondents saying rivals were bidding at unsustainably low margins.

The same number reported that poor client practice was a major concern, up from 6 per cent in January.

Long delays and bureaucracy in procurement processes were also weakening the position of contractors.

CECA directors of external affairs Alasdair Reisner called the results “no surprise”, adding that “CECA has been warning for some time that the country is undergoing an infrastructure crunch”.

“The most recent CECA Workload Trends Survey showed workloads heading into negative territory once more after two previous quarters of growth.”

Mr Reisner also said it was “of grave concern that the number of members reporting being directly affected by poor client practices in the last six months has increased considerably”.

“It is essential steps are taken to stamp out adversarial practices, and to implement leaner forms of procurement.”

“Given the difficulties faced by the sector, CECA also believe the government should act now to boost output through the implementation of shovel-ready repair, maintenance and minor works.”

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