Late payment ‘drives business owners to depression and suicide’
The pressure of being paid late or unfairly is driving business owners in construction to a range of “significant mental health problems” including depression and suicide.
That’s according to the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) and Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), which have conducted a survey in association with 25 other construction trade bodies examining the effects of the problem.
Nine in 10 business owners reported mental health issues as a result of late or unfair payment.
The mental health problems included:
- Stress (80%)
- Depression (36%)
- Extreme anger (38%)
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks (40%)
- Insomnia (36%)
- Suicidal feelings (10%)
The issue was also found to affect employees right across a business, including CEOs, directors, managers and executives. Worryingly, of all the respondents to the survey (including both business owners and employees) four said they had attempted suicide as a result of late payment, while 80% reported a mental health issue.
And four in 10 of all respondents said that payment issues had strained their relationship with their partner, with 5% reporting it caused it to breakdown entirely.
Over nine in 10 respondents (92%) said their business had faced payment issues. Almost two-thirds (65%) said they were paid late frequently or very frequently.
ECA director of CSR Paul Reeve said: “Everybody expects business to deal with everyday pressures, but stress and other mental health impacts come from sustained and excessive pressure. It’s absolutely clear from these findings that poor payment is a serious cause of mental health issues across the industry and that the problem, far from being isolated to certain individuals, is commonplace among top management.
“These problems quickly knock on to employees and families alike. Findings such as these mean that clients and other buyers need to greatly improve their approach to supply chain payment and it’s a sad reflection on the industry that it will probably take legislation to achieve it.”
BESA CEO David Frise added: “Systemic payment abuse causes broken lives and broken buildings and must be stamped out. The economic damage of these practices is well known but this survey has shed light onto its devastating human cost. Thousands of owners and workers of SMEs have struggled and suffered with this abuse for too long and with a general election underway they will be reflecting upon who will most likely represent their concerns.”