Build UK members criticised by rival trade body on payment

1 August 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

The major contractors represented by industry body Build UK are still showing an "utter disregard" for small- and medium-sized businesses and regional contractors despite publishing data on how long they take to pay invoices.

That's the view of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), which was reacting to the publication at the start of this week of Build UK members' payment performance.

The data showed that all 24 of the 27 Build UK members to feature in the figures take more than 30 days to pay invoices on average, despite the fact that they are all signed up to the Construction Supply Chain Payment Charter aimed at ensuring standard payment terms of 30 days and abolishing retentions.

The NFB said it refuted the idea that Build UK was "leading the industry by publishing its members' payment performance table', as implementation minister Oliver Dowden asserted.

It said it was "astonished" to see a government minister praising Build UK for "barely fulfilling its legal obligations".

Neil Walters, national chair of the NFB, said: “Fair practice is essential to changing the industry culture around payment, not transparency. Transparency is a legal requirement, not a bold step. Procurement regulations already require 30-day payment terms down the supply chain, but the first thing tier one contractors do is change the contract terms to suit their interests and all but force SMEs to sign the amended terms to get paid.

“Seeing Build UK portray tier one contractors like industry pioneers is the ultimate insult. Build UK members, who make up less than 1% of the construction industry, are failing the 99%.”

Build UK's payment performance figures showed that Willmott Dixon was the fastest to pay of the 24 firms, at an average of 33 days. Slowest was Murphy Group at 66 days.

Kier, Balfour Beatty and Vinci were all revealed as taking longer than 50 days to pay.

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