Support grows in Westminster for campaign on cash retentions

Newell McGuiness
Newell McGuiness

The campaigning trade body for Scotland’s electrical sector has thrown its weight behind increased pressure from MPs over the vexed issue of cash retentions within the construction industry.

SELECT is once again highlighting the issue in advance of a government review of the Construction Act which is expected to include actions such as the ring-fencing of cash which is owed to supplier firms.

Stuart McDonald, SNP MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, last month tabled a parliamentary question about the late release or even non-release of cash retentions. He was supported by Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield.

In February this year, the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group (SEC Group) revealed that more than £1 billion in cash retentions is being withheld by UK top construction companies from their SME sub-contractors.

Newell McGuiness, managing director of SELECT, which is a constituent member of SECG, said: “We wholeheartedly support action on this troubling issue and look forward to positive developments in the upcoming review of the Construction Act.”

The SEC Group has been a tireless campaigner on the retentions issue. Just two years ago it published a damning report which showed that public bodies such as councils and universities were denying struggling Scottish firms access to cash owed simply to improve their own cash position regarding working capital.

The research also revealed that while many bodies paid their primary contractors within 30 days, little effort was made to ensure that secondary or sub-contractors got the same treatment.

Rudi Klein, chief executive of the SEC Group, said there had been tremendous support in Westminster on the issue.

He added: “After many years of SEC Group campaigning, it seems that we are now making progress towards protecting cash retentions.

“This has to be the road map to enabling construction SMEs to grow and innovate.”

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