FIS CEO Iain McIlwee has called out payment practices in the construction sector in a hard hitting article in Construction News this week.
In the article Iain raises the concern that payment conditions are worsening (reported by 21% of FIS Members), with particular issues occurring at the year end. He points out that, whilst average invoice payment times of main contractors with a Duty to Report are reportedly down to 31 days, this masks what is actually happening the ground and the myriad of issues associated with payment applications, pay less notices, certification and underpaying which are picked up in reporting.
A contributing FIS Member who wished to remain anonymous added:
“I am sick to death of begging for money. It isn’t just Christmas. It goes on all year, but definitely gets worse as we move to reporting periods. I attend meetings all the time where I am told businesses pride themselves in paying on time, but it is the spurious underpayments and unsubstantiated pay less notices that they don’t talk about. It feels like death by a thousand cuts.”.
The full article, which you can read here provides first hand accounts of the way in which contractors are being treated and reflects on the impact on relationships and mental health in the sector as well as wasted time and limiting ability to invest and transform. Further experiences have been shared in online discussions linked back to the article.
In reaction, To address the growing number of issues FIS have drafted in experienced adjudicator Len Bunton as a consultant adviser. He has also contributed to the article, reflecting on his recent experiences of working with FIS:
“I am very concerned about the level of issues we are encountering relating to payment. The industry needs to improve its management of the commercial side of contracts, and this should help greatly to reduce some of the current problems. Project bank accounts will help, as will utilising the Conflict Avoidance Process (CAP). I think the public sector needs to lead by example and take far greater interest in ensuring that payment is getting to the supply chain at the right time and in the right amounts. A shaking of the head and saying, ‘this is nothing to do with us’, does not help the industry.”
FIS, as part of our transformation agenda has committed to stepping up the work they are doing on fair payment in 2023 now that Business Secretary Grant Shapps has announced a formal review into payment practices of larger companies and the impact on the supply chain.
You can read more about how is FIS Campaigning for the sector here