One in six MPs back ring-fencing of retentions

17 April 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

MPs Caroline Lucas and John McDonnell have signed in support of the Aldous Bill

More than 100 MPs – around one in six of all members of Parliament – now support the holding of cash retentions in trust.

The MPs have shown their support for an Early Day Motion, introduced by Conservative MP Peter Aldous and tabled by James Frith MP on 23 January.

Known as the “Aldous Bill”, it has received signatures from 61 MPs, and calls on the government to introduce new legislative proposals to put retentions in deposit protection schemes.

Among them are Green MP Caroline Lucas, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, former business minister Vince Cable, and Conservative MP Kenneth Clarke.

Alongside the initial 12 co-sponsoring MPs of the motion, the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group claimed they had received confirmation from other MPs, taking the list of supporters to over 100.

Support has risen since the collapse of Carillion in January, six days after the Aldous Bill’s first reading.

The second reading of the bill is due to take place on 27 April.

Aldous said: “Industry support for reform to outdated payment systems is at unprecedented levels, for which I am very grateful. Construction is an essential underpinning of our lives and work, and we need to support the industry and especially SMEs to ensure future growth and prosperity.

“The petition being presented represents over 330,000 businesses and there are over 100 of my Parliamentary colleagues that support reform to the practice of cash retentions.”

“We have a golden opportunity to improve the industry for the better, level the playing field for SMEs and protect thousands and thousands of jobs. The industry loses around £1m for each working day, mostly from SMEs. There have been proposals to stop the abuse of retentions before, but this time there is the largest coalition on fair payments ever.”

ECA director of business Paul Reeve said: “Carillion’s collapse highlighted serious supply chain and procurement problems in construction, which need an urgent remedy.

“Reforming the payment and cash retention systems is an essential requirement for protecting smaller businesses, ensuring the successful future of the UK construction industry, and for sustainable economic growth.”

David Frise, CEO of BESA, said: “The urgent need for reform is clear from the cross-party support the Aldous Bill has. The impact from lost Carillion retention money on apprentices, jobs and investment in the sector is already evident. Holding cash retentions in trust will make sure that the money is safe and does what it is intended to do.”

A delegation from other 75 bodies supporting Aldous’s retentions reform efforts will join Aldous to present a petition at 10 Downing Street next month.

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