Why the bosses must pay for failed Carillion

“I work for Carillion – or at least the remains of it – and feel disheartened about what has happened because as the Government’s own phrase goes, I and many others ‘did the right thing’.

I’ve never claimed a penny from the state in almost 40 years at work and I’ve saved into various pensions, many of which will now be reduced in value. No one should be expected to lose a penny due to the incompetence of company directors.

Each time a firm goes bust and a hole is discovered in the pension fund, we are told: ‘There will be an inquiry’.

Regulators are seemingly useless and the so-called gold-plated element of final salary pensions is a myth.

This time, the state-owned British Business bank will step in, which seems to mean millions of taxpayers like me will pick up the tab. The perpetrators, always motivated by greed, should be made to surrender all wealth derived from the failed company, lose any titles they have been granted and be put on minimum wage.

I would also suggest community payback, with no prospect of a return to their previous status. However, it seems that there is no stigma or disgrace associated with their actions.”

Quote ends

The above is taken from a letter by Carillion employee, Michael Fell, to the Daily Mail newspaper. It appeared on Wednesday 7th February 2018.

As ever, it is PEOPLE AND FAMILIES, not businesses, which carry the cost of mismanagement and failure. Carillion’s debt to 30,000 suppliers (specialist contractors and others) is said to be one billion pounds.

As StreetwiseSubbie managing director, Barry Ashmore said in yesterday’s ‘Wise up Wednesday’ e-mail:

  • Carillion has impacted over 400,000 lives!
  • That’s 40,000 employees x (1 partner + 1.5 children) = 100,000
  • 30,000 businesses x say 4 people x (1 partner + 1.8 children) = 336,000

The actual number may never be known, but whatever it is, it’s a national disgrace!

There have been dozens of inquiries and reports into the state of Construction in the UK. It’s now time to have a full Public Inquiry, to learn from its findings and change the industry for the better.

Please sign up to our call for a Public Inquiry here:  https://goo.gl/qk6osw




StreetwiseSubbie’s Barry Ashmore on BBC Radio Derby today

Following Carillion’s “apology” today (06.02.18) to MP’s, I recorded an interview for Radio Derby’s Martyn Williams show which has been on air from 4pm today. (It will be available on i-player and I will post/share the link when it is available.)

Apart from telling Martyn that I didn’t think Carillion’s apology would count for much among the 30,000 businesses affected, I also said that what is needed is a full scale Public Inquiry into construction.

So please if you get chance listen in and please give us your support and sign our petition. And if you are in a Trade Association ask them if they have seen our open letter to all Trade and Professional Bodies in the UK construction industry.

You may also wish to ask your Trade Association whether or not they will be supporting our campaign for a Public Inquiry to Improve The Procurement and Payment Culture In Construction.

If you support our calls for action please ensure that you and your team have signed our petition (1186 people already have as at 6 February 2018).

And please share it as widely as you can with other subcontractors and suppliers. You can find it here: https://goo.gl/qk6osw

The text of our open letter is as follows;

An Open Letter To All Trade And Professional Bodies In The UK Construction Industry

Dear Sirs

What Next For Your Members In The Aftermath Of Carillion?

The pain and suffering of all those caught up in the liquidation of Carillion must not be for nothing.

We must come together at every level to bring about real and lasting change.

What has gone before is simply not working, and if we carry on as we are, the industry as we know it will destroy itself, as surely as its own flawed business model eventually destroyed Carillion.

Strong words I know, but if you doubt what I say please consider these facts;

  • Since 2008 thousands of SME construction related businesses have failed
  • The image of construction is at an all-time low
  • Men working in the construction industry are at the highest risk of suicide
  • There is a massive skills shortage
  • The industry is not attracting the most talented people

In 2016 a YouGov poll of 2,000 members of the public measured perceptions of a number of industries and found that the vast majority would never consider a career in the construction industry, with just 17% saying that they would give it thought.

What a sad indictment of what should be a fantastic industry!

The future is in our hands, we must act decisively, we must act now.

Every right-thinking person in construction knows what a dire state of affairs we have, but the government and others turn a blind eye to what is going on right under their nose.

Those that have the power to change things are choosing to ignore the shameful way that professionals, sub-contractors, and suppliers go unpaid or under paid, not to mention the falling standards and the very real but unseen human cost.

Enough’s enough, let’s all work together for real truth and real change. So, please;

  • Support our call for a Public Inquiry into construction at; https://goo.gl/qk6osw
  • Share this message across all social media using #enoughsenough and #buildfair4all
  • Share your thoughts and ideas

Please feel free to give us a call on 01773 712116 or email us on info@streetwisesubbie.com, and let’s see what we can all do together to bring about positive change.

Yours faithfully

B J Ashmore

Managing Director

Please Help Us To Build A Better Future For Construction

We are not interested in the politics of procurement. Enough’s enough, let’s all work together for real truth and real change.

Please feel free to give us a call on 01773 712116 or email us on info@streetwisesubbie.com for more information, and let’s see what we can all do together to bring about positive change.

A Christmas Wish From One Specialist Contractor – To Those Who Have The Power Or The Influence To Grant It

Here’s a sincere Christmas wish to everyone who has the responsibility for paying their suppliers and sub-contractors from one of the Specialist Contractors in our exclusive Linked In group;

“To all the employees of main contractors that have little connection between payments received and their wages:

This time of year is supposed to be celebratory. But for me as a Specialist Contractor, it is one of barely being able to eat, and sleepless nights .

You see, I rely on people paying me within the contractual times , and when they have promised, in order to run my business and pay everyone’s wages.

Please don’t use excuses about getting the paperwork right at the last minute and then not seeing fit to treat it as a priority.

Please don’t promise the beginning of December and still not pay 19 days in.

I have staff to pay and suppliers , your ineptitude (or deliberate non payment) has a human cost right the way down the line.

All I want is what I am due and owed and to pass the seasonal good wishes on .

Just like when you wanted the work done we turned up prepared and in time.

I am sick to the back teeth of these miserable Scrooge like tactics.

They cause a great deal of stress and are quite frankly cruel and sick.

It’s mainly women in this sector that collect payments and at the end of the day it’s our children that are affected while we are strung out like mad because of lies or disorganisation .

I am organised and have worked until god knows what time every night for months to ensure my obligations are met.

Now due to the incompetency and disregard of others I can’t even greet my kid from the last day of school and do something fun for the break.

Before you assume I am some lower life form, I am a graduate and an expert in what I do , who you couldn’t work without .

So please wake up smell the coffee and pay us properly!!

I do not want 2014 to be the same it’s immoral and needs to stop.”

StreetwiseSubbie exists for the benefit of all Specialist Contractors regardless of size or specialisation.

If you are a UK based Specialist Contractor and would like to join over 1,540 fellow Specialists in our exclusive LinkedIn Group, you can find it here.

A Year On And The Payment Situation Is Now Even Worse!

A year ago our first ‘State of the Industry’ survey revealed that a staggering 90% of Specialist Contractors were being subjected to unfair treatment or sharp practice, and regrettably our latest survey show the situation has got even worse!

Our 2013 payment survey has revealed that one year on, Specialist Contractors are still being subjected to wholesale payment abuse.

Even on publicly funded projects less than 4% are being paid within 30 days, some 20% were not paid until 60 to 90 days, and almost 7% said they had been paid later than 90 days. The private sector was broadly similar with only 6% getting paid in 30 days and some 25% getting paid in excess of 60 days.

So, why aren’t Specialist Contractors standing up for themselves and saying enough is enough?

Work is still in short supply and despite the enormous risks many Subbies said that they felt forced to take the work for fear of not getting future work. Results show that 73% of Specialist Contractors on both public and private sector jobs felt unable to challenge the ridiculous payment terms they were offered, even those that escalated to more than 120 days!

When challenged on payment terms, Contractors are quoted as saying ‘take it or leave it’ and that there are ‘many more are waiting in line for this work and they will accept our terms’.

Who Will Help The Beleaguered Specialist Contractors?

Not the Government that’s for sure! Despite their supposed ‘help’ for small businesses, they are actually part of the problem!

Less than 4% of our respondents said they got paid within 30 days when working on public sector contracts, and more worryingly 20% got paid with 60 to 90 days and almost 7% got paid in excess of 90 days!

Not only are the Government not enforcing their 30 day payment terms, they are ignoring the fact that the current late and non payment remedies are fit for purpose and don’t actually work.

The Prompt Payment Code is one big joke, as most companies who signed up, choose to ignore it, and when asked about it on BBC Radio5Live’s investigation into late payment, Michael Fallon admitted that ‘the code is not binding and companies can simply choose not to comply.’

Forgive me for stating the b***ding obvious Mr Fallon but that’s not terribly helpful!

Our survey also found that the “Mystery Shopper” service and the Late Payment legislation has proven to be another useless tool in the fight against late payment, with just 13% actually being aware of its existence, and those that had tried it said it was next to useless as it ‘has no teeth’.

Our survey also revealed a general consensus that reverse factoring payment schemes that require Specialist Contractors to PAY to get PAID are as Construction Enquirer said recently a “fundamentally flawed and morally bankrupt approach” to payment , and are just another way for the Contractors to legally abuse the payment system.

How Far Have We Come – What More Can You Do?

Despite the fact that the late payment situation over the last year, has worsened our campaign against it has gathered momentum.

The StreetwiseSubbie Fair Treatment Charter was proposed by an all Party Inquiry as part of the fight against late payment, and I took part in a two part investigation on BBC Radio5Live, which resulted in their biggest response ever.

We don’t think that David Cameron’s press release the next day was a coincidence, and it prompted me to suggest that “pigs might fly”, because as far I’m concerned it was just another empty political BS statement.

So, What Can YOU Do?

We all need to keep pushing on in order to make even more impact on the situation

We have to get more media coverage for the issue, and maybe we need to take a leaf out of Unite’s book and adopt their “leverage” approach.

Unite leader Len McCluskey is adamant that such tactics are here to stay and says that;

“Leverage is about telling the bad bosses that they have nowhere to hide, challenging their conduct with shareholders, with clients and customers.”

Maybe you might think that picketing the big Contractors is a step too far, but there are lots of things that you can do without even leaving the comfort of your office.

If everyone takes just a couple of minutes to do their bit, we are confident that we can take even larger strides in the next year (and the run up to the election) in our fight against late payment.

So what can you do?

  • Sign the petition ‘Stop Funding the Corporate Thieves’ (click here)
  • Download a copy of the Streetwise Subbie Fair Treatment Charter (click here) and ask all your suppliers, the Contractors you work with and even your competition to adopt the Charter in every contract.
  • Get in touch with the BBC (click here) and share your late and non payment experiences.
  • Send a letter to Vince Cable, Michael Fallon and your local MP (click here to download templates).
  • Join our exclusive LinkedIn group (click here) of over 1,480 Specialist Contractors and contribute to the debate on new ways to fight late payment together
  • Follow us on Twitter, @StreetwiseSubbi, and use the #buildfair4all to tweet your support
  • Give me a call and let’s see what else we can do together

Dysfunctional supply chains must be addressed

That’s the headline in Construction News today (Wednesday 30 October 2013) and it’s all about the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills having commissioned EC Harris to undertake research into the structure of construction supply chains to inform the government’s industrial strategy. 

But What About The Specialist Contractors Themselves?

The report does highlight some very important issues and failings in the industry, and to quote Simon Rawlinson head of strategic research and insight at EC Harris

“The team found that construction supply chains are highly fragmented, and furthermore, that the level of fragmentation increases in supply chains that are directly involved in the delivery of construction work on site.”

Aside from the fact that just about every Government report into the UK Construction Industry since Adam was a lad has concluded much the same thing, what does the report say about the Specialist Contractors themselves think it should be fixed?

Well sadly – not a great deal.

And in my book that’s an opportunity lost, because as the Government’s earlier report this year identified Specialist Contractors as of “system wide importance”.

So why didn’t this report canvas the views of those Specialist Contractors about what should be done to address the “dysfunctional supply chain”?

And therein lies the problem!

The 3 stated objectives of the report were all about “cost saving” and “competing”.

So here we have a report designed to find out how to save costs, which concludes that the industry is broken!

Forgive for pointing out the bleeding obvious (as Lord Sugar would say), but that’s something we have been saying for the last year. Indeed “Specialist Contracting Is Broken – What Can We Do To Fix It” was the title of our sell out conference for Specialist Contractors this summer!

The Single Most Important Issue Overlooked

What the report doesn’t properly properly address or offer any solutions to, is the way in which the industry is paid!

It does limply say that “Sub-Contractors state that payment performance is worsening and payment periods are being extended…”

But here’s where I take issue with its authors, because it says “payment periods are being extended as a result of current market conditions.”

WHAT? What did you say “current market conditions”. Is that not an insult to all Specialist Contractors who know what’s really going on!

Strangling the flow of money to its supply chain is the only way many unscrupulous Contractors know how to make their slim profits and their massive returns on capital employed.

And what does this report recommend in regard to payment?

“The review of financial arrangements including bidding and payment with a particular emphasis on…” wait for it  “ the role of supply chains in cost lead procurement and maintenance of cash flow at all levels of the supply chain…” and here’s the biggest irony ”…including Tier 1”

OMG here we go again let’s not just fix the payment problem. Oh no. Let’s have another review!

If your car breaks down at the side of the motorway, the AA, the RAC, the Police and the Highway Traffic Officers all sticking their head under the bonnet and concluding “it’s broken” is NOT going to get it fixed.

In fact it will just serve to annoy you even more, and frankly that’s what’s going on at the moment. Specialist Contractors are sick and tired of suggesting that we need yet another review!

They are particularly sick and tired of another recommendation like the one quoted above that says we mustn’t forget the Tier 1 Contractors!

That’s a bit like saying we need to ensure that the top of the range BMW that the Police Officer arrives in to check you have broken down is always immaculately polished!

Please Mr Fallon, Dr Cable, and Mr Cameron, stop looking under the bonnet and fetch a mechanic!

David Cameron Is On High Alert, Let’s Force Real Action Against Late Payment While We Can!

After last Sunday’s investigation into late payment on BBC Radio5Live caused such an uproar about the failure of the Prompt Payment Code and the lack of action by the Government to help the situation, David Cameron ‘coincidently’ made a politician’s promise to ‘help small businesses get paid on time’.

That’s all good and well Mr Cameron, but it means nothing to us without some serious action to back it up. And we know that the only way to get action out of the Government is to take action ourselves!

Due to the overwhelming response received on last week’s late payment investigation show, BBC Radio5Live are doing a follow up TOMORROW (Sunday 20 October) and have invited Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise Matthew Hancock on to the programme. As well as listening in, there are plenty of actions you can take to help do your bit in the battle against late payment, and the more YOU do, the more Cameron has to listen and follow suit!

Please ensure you listen in and respond by text to the number the BBC give out, or email goldberg@bbc.co.uk.

Please tweet about it now at @BBC5Live with #buildfair4all, and especially on Sunday during the programme.

You can also do the following to help:

• If you haven’t done the survey yet please do so by clicking here, it takes just 2 minutes!
• If you haven’t already had a listen to last week’s show please do so by clicking here.
• Add your own story of payment abuse on the BBC News website.
• Invite all UK Specialist Contractors to come and join our Free LinkedIn Group.

• Follow us on Twitter: @Streetwisesubbi and tweet #buildfair4all
• Check out the free resources at StreetwiseSubbie.com
• Get in touch with me via email: barry@streetwisesubbie.com


We have recently been described as a “pressure group”, but we are so much more than that!

Remember we are here to help all Specialist Contractors irrespective of size or specialisation and we provide a fantastic support network.

Why not come and see just how much we have to offer you and your business?

Thanks and best regards


Construction Payment Abuse! Cameron Says He Will Act But He Won’t Unless You Do!

Last Sunday I told BBC Radio 5Live’s Adrian Goldberg that the Prompt Payment Charter doesn’t work, and we have the proof.

David Cameron Says He Will Act – But He Won’t Unless You Do!

Call me cynical but the only thing that matters to David Cameron is trying to get re-elected.

That’s not a political statement (I voted for them for Pete’s sake). I’s not political because I believe that is true of most politicians. Debbie Abrahams (and this isn’t political either) is fighting hard on this issue, and deserves tremendous credit.

Let’s face it the government have had plenty of time to deal with the national disgrace that is payment abuse in the construction industry, but they haven’t.

So why believe them now?

The only way that to force their hand, is if the whole dirty business of payment abuse is properly explained to the British public and they say enough is enough.

In no other industry do companies get away with the corporate theft that some Contractors are getting away with.

Instead the Government rewards them by giving them more work and paying them with your money!

How perverse is that?

Despite the introduction of the Government’s Prompt Payment Code, the reality is that less than 4% of Specialist Contractors who had worked on Government projects in the last 12 months were paid within 30 days!

Almost 150 Specialist Contractors have done the survey, but if you haven’t done it yet please do so here; http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/27KT6W3.

We MUST take this opportunity to make this the biggest survey of it’s kind. It is already credible, but please help to make it unstoppable!

Please DO NOT be the one that lets the side down by not doing the survey!

And please do your utmost to help.

If you haven’t listened to the show, it’s here; http://bbc.in/17nDzpI

Add your own story of payment abuse here on the BBC News website; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/24497762

The show went out live last Sunday, but then what a coincidence!

The day after the Radio5Live investigation Prime Minister David Cameron announced a consultation to look at helping small businesses get paid on time?

They have been “consulting” and prevaricating for years!

So WHY do YOU think he did that? It can only be because the government sees this as an issue on which they have been incredibly weak, and it’s an issue that isn’t going away any time soon.

They also know that the British Public will see the real motives for supporting the big businesses rather than the small ones.


BBC Radio5Live are doing a follow up this Sunday 20 October and have invited Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise Matthew Hancock on to the programme. Please ensure you listen in and respond by text to the number the BBC give out, or email goldberg@bbc.co.uk

Please tweet about it now at @BBC5Live with #buildfair4all, and especially on Sunday during the programme.

If he really wants to do something effective, rather than just B.S. about it, here’s my invitation to Mr Cameron to meet me!


Now We Need Your Help To Stop Payment Abuse Destroying The Industry

Here’s what you can do to help;

• If you haven’t done the survey yet please do so
• If you haven’t already had a listen to the show please do so
• Add your own story of payment abuse on the BBC News website.
• Invite all UK Specialist Contractors to come and join our Free LinkedIn Group http://linkd.in/cvfM9X
• Follow us on Twitter @Streetwisesubbi and tweet #buildfair4all
• Check out the free resources at StreetwiseSubbie.com
• Get in touch at barry@streetwisesubbie.com

We have recently been described as a “pressure group”, but we are so much more than that!

Remember we are here to help all Specialist Contractors irrespective of size or specialisation and we provide a fantastic support network.

Why not come and see just how much we have to offer you and your business?

Thanks and best regards