Plans to improve payment practices throughout the construction industry were
unveiled today by Industry and Regions Minister Margaret Hodge. The sector is
one of the UK's biggest industries, accounting for nearly nine per cent of the
economy. It has improved payment practices over the past decade but problems
The consultation, developed with broad industry support and involvement, builds
on the current system and seeks to:
Introduce greater clarity and transparency into the statutory payment
framework to enable construction companies to better manage cash flow;
Encourage parties to resolve disputes by adjudication; and
Identify how the costs and benefits of the package can be evaluated.
The consultation was launched by Minister for Industry and the Regions, Margaret
Hodge in conjunction with Andrew Davies, the Welsh Assembly Government Minister
for Social Justice and Public Service Delivery.
Margaret Hodge said:
"It is essential for the construction industry that we have in place a
system which delivers fair payment practices. The framework set out in the 1996
Construction Act has delivered some improvements but recent industry surveys
say that poor payment practices continue to be a key issue for many in the industry.
We must change that. I believe this package represents good progress in securing
a better payment system for the industry.
Andrew Davies said:
"These proposals are intended to support the current effectiveness of
the Construction Act and the fine balance between the range of interests it
has been able to strike. They represent a focused set of amendments which are
designed to address specific weaknesses which have been identified in the current
operation of the Act"
Sounding board member Peter Rogers, Stanhope plc said:
"I am delighted that this consultation is being launched today. The proposals
it contains have been subject to detailed scrutiny by the sounding board, as
well as more widely by the industry. Fair payment must underpin more integrated
working practices. The construction industry now has the opportunity to consider
measures which should be in the better interests of all of us." Guidance
remains the preferred route to improve the operation of construction contracts
and further legislative intervention is suggested only where it is absolutely
necessary. Prompt and fair payment practice throughout construction supply chains
will help the construction industry to adopt integrated working as the norm.
This will be achieved by:
improving access to the right to refer disputes for adjudication by:
applying the legislation to oral and partly oral contracts
preventing the use of agreements that interim payment decisions will be
conclusive to avoid adjudication of interim payment disputes
ensuring the costs involved in the process are fairly allocated
preventing unnecessary duplication of payment notices
clarifying the requirement to serve a section 110(2) payment notice
clarifying the content of payment and withholding notices
ensuring the payment framework creates a clear interim entitlement to payment
prohibiting the use of pay when certified clauses
These proposals are intended to be proportionate amendments to the existing
framework to address specific issues that have arisen during the nine years
the Construction Act has been in operation.
Legislation to implement the proposals emerging from this consultation will
be introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows.