With the Autumn Budget due to be announced on Wednesday 22 November, the ECA and the BESA have called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to take action to support small and medium sized businesses in the construction industry.
The two engineering services trade bodies have issued a five-point plan to the Treasury, urging the following measures be prioritised in the Budget in order to boost productivity:
- Prompt payment – Make prompt supply chain payment a formal part of the government’s selection process for larger suppliers and exclude them from the procurement process if a bidder fails to satisfy this condition, as recently proposed by the Cabinet Office.
- Retentions – Legislate to ensure that any cash retentions requested by clients and larger contractors are held in trust at the nearest opportunity to ensure that SMEs do not lose their own money if a business up the supply chain goes insolvent.
- Clean energy – Building on the ‘Clean Growth Plan’, take concrete steps to encourage a step-change in electrical and heat storage development and use by reviewing tax and regulatory policies aimed at businesses, particularly SMEs.
- Rogue traders – Post the Grenfell Tower tragedy, take concrete steps to drive rogue traders out of the construction industry by recognising within legislation businesses which have their work regularly certified and their employees fully qualified.
- Sector deals – Government must ensure trade associations play an ‘integral’ role in the ongoing development of sector deals, as proposed by former Trade & Industry Secretary Lord Heseltine.
BESA Director of Commercial and Legal Rob Driscoll and ECA Director of Business Paul Reeve jointly commented: “Productivity among construction SMEs continues to be stifled by factors including the existence of rogue traders, cash being held in retentions and issues with getting paid on time.
“The ECA and BESA are calling on the government to put SMEs – the engine of the UK economy – at the forefront of their economic plans, in order to deliver jobs, growth and increased productivity.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond will deliver the Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22 November.