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.

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He who alleges must prove! Keeping good records helps you avoid payment problems.

Whether it’s getting paid for variations, or stopping the contractor blaming you for delaying the job, you need to be able to prove that your version of events is correct, writes Barry Ashmore, managing director of Streetwisesubbie.com Limited.

Both these situations have arisen for Client’s this last week or so, and with our help, both Clients won – because they had good records!

“He Who Alleges Must Prove” and “Evidence Wins Cases”

Please understand this, neither Client got as far as a formal process, they didn’t need to, they had the evidence and could therefore show the Contractor, prove to him, that they would win.

Proof = Is best in the form of records in one form or another.

Please don’t tell me it’s difficult, or too expensive, to keep good records.There was a total of around £250,000 at stake in just these two cases, so how expensive would it have been if my Clients hadn’t got the records?

Keeping good written and photographic records is a fundamental necessity, the importance of which cannot be overstated.

Regardless of the size and value of the work, good records are essential in order to protect yourself. The scale and complexity of the work may dictate how much time and effort you need to put in, but even the most basic records can offer you protection.

Capture It – Because You Can’t Recreate It

Almost all construction disputes deal with events that occurred weeks, months or even years in the past. Your works may even be covered up, so cannot easily to be inspected at a later date.

Any records that you make at the time will be far more valuable as evidence than your memory of what happened, particularly if you can show that they have been issued to the other party at the time the events took place.

Check what the contract says about records and make sure you comply. It is not uncommon for a failure to submit records to be used as an excuse to reduce or withhold payment or blame you for delays that are not of your making.

In one of the two cases mentioned above my Client faced a claim of £150,000 for alleged delays – he’s very glad he had the records!

Payment Abuse

Payment abuse is destroying the UK construction industry, and over 95% of respondents to our recent survey think that neither the trade associations nor the government are doing enough to solve the problem.

So we are taking action.

Our very popular training seminars start again in March.

We want to share “The Secret Keys To Unlocking Subcontract Payment” that we have been putting into practice on behalf of Specialist Subcontractors for the last 27 years.

And they’re are being revealed at our March events;

“Understand Your Contract to Minimise Risk and Maximise Profit”

“Introduction To Contractual Awareness and Using JCT Subcontracts”

WHEN/WHERE IS IT? The dates and easy access free parking venues venues are as follows;

Thursday 15 March Leeds

Thursday 22 March Nottingham

Thursday 29 March Coventry

WHAT DOES IT COVER? We will be unlocking the Secrets To Getting Paid on time every time in a straightforward down to earth easy to follow style using real life examples.

Training is designed to give you the inside track on subcontract law and procedures, with emphasis on the JCT subcontracts. And we show you the the practical steps you can take to get paid properly.

Full details will be released soon but if you are interested please email info@streetwisesubbie.com for more details.

Update On Our Petition

As you may have seen we are calling for a Public Inquiry into construction in the wake of the Carillion liquidation which is going to impact 30,000 firms just like yours.

We are not interested in the politics of procurement, we are interested in protecting Specialist Sub-Contractors.

As of today, 1,170 people have signed our petition. So, here is how you can help;

And 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.

#enoughsenough #buildfair4all

 I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

 Best regards

Barry

P.S. Please remember if you need any support please take action sooner rather than later. If you’re not sure what you need, or just want a second opinion, please give us a call on 01773 712116, or email info@streetwisesubbie.com

Another Two Specialist Contractors Bite The Dust…But Who’s Counting?

Another One Bites The Dust…

(It’s two actually – but no-one seems to be counting)

Just read about not one, but two Specialist Contractors that have bit the dust this week…

McGrath Bros (Engineering) Group has ceased trading with the loss of 171 jobs.

The firm, founded in 1981, worked on major projects across the UK, including the London Olympics Aquatics Centre, with a London office in Tottenham handling a large order book in England and a Glasgow office covering Scotland.

And…

Hull-based offsite manufacturer Modular Space Limited has fallen into administration.

The firm specialised in site cabins supplying the Costain/Skanksa joint venture on Crossrail and Wates.  It also delivered prefabricated buildings for school and health projects.

Skills and High Profile Projects Do Not Equal Success

Clearly both firms had worked on high profile projects, they don’t come much bigger than the Olympics and Crossrail. And there was no shortage of skills and expertise in these two companies, Modular had even developed a special two-storey house design, which could be assembled from four basic units in just five hours.

So What’s Going Wrong?

The fact of the matter is that whilst Trade Associations and Build UK tinker around the edges of the major issues facing you and your business, and promote nonsensical solutions to the very real and business threatening payment problems facing the industry, more Specialist Contractors are going to fail.

As Brian McGrath is quoted as saying;

“Legacy contracts taken on during the recession have also taken their toll on main contractors and specialist subcontractors alike, all linking to underpayments of completed works and disputed final accounts.”

So, if you are not getting paid properly then don’t delay in getting it sorted.

Please don’t stand for late or underpayment.

Take action

Take action to safeguard your business from the catastrophic impact of reduced, late, or non-payment in 2016.

If you don’t then it could cost you your business…

Unscrupulous Contractors use every trick in the book, to reduce and delay payments. Specialist Contractor’s efforts to avoid or rectify this problem often come too late in the process.

Don’t be one of the casualties, take action now.

You can download a complimentary “How To Get Paid” report right now, and put an end to reduced, late and non-payment.

And you can call us for initial no cost advice on 01773 712116, and our Gold and Platinum Buddies can use their commercial and contractual consultancy to find an answer.

Whatever level your business is at, and whatever your specialisation I want to encourage you to experience and enjoy a better more profitable, less stressful way.

 

When you’re not getting paid in construction, when is the problem not about payment?

Don’t confuse the two…

Question: When you’re not getting paid, when is the problem not about payment?

Answer: When it’s a dispute about valuation.

The two things are interconnected but they are not the same!

They are different problems that require different solutions.

Reasons for under valuation in construction

There are a wide range of reasons why you might not be getting paid properly, but the most common are the under valuation of your account including variations and valuation of the final account.

There are several steps that you can take to avoid under valuation.

First, know your contract: It is important to always check the terms and conditions of your contract and be fully aware of specification of the works, payment terms, variations and extensions of time clauses and adjudication clauses.

Secondly, keep in touch with the Contractor or Client: Always give regular progress updates to Contractors and inform them of any factors that may give rise to variations delays etc. This can be achieved by regular agreed meetings and effective management.

Thirdly, before carrying out any additional work, ensure that you receive written instructions from the Contractor or Client and do not wait until the end of the project to try and get values agreed.

Keep everything: You can never keep too many records. Respond effectively to any verbal requests and ensure that you take pictures of the site, retain email conversations and, importantly, document any reasons for delayed progress.

Please don’t stand for late or underpayment.

Take action!

Remember that problems never resolve themselves.

If your works are not being properly valued, take remedial action early. The sooner you tackle the problem the less impact it is likely to cause, and the sooner you get the money the better.

It’s an old adage but you need to get your money out of the tin before it’s empty!

Try going to the top: If discussions at site level are not addressing a certain issue, then go to someone senior in the Contractor or Client’s business. Senior management is often able to take a broader perspective and this wider view can often help resolve disputes before they escalate.

If you do encounter problems that are not getting fixed, discussing things at an early stage with one of our expert legal advisers can be cheaper and simpler than trying to resolve an escalated dispute further down the line.

Take action to safeguard your business from the catastrophic impact of reduced, late, or non-payment in 2016.

If you don’t then it could cost you your business!

Unscrupulous Contractors use every trick in the book, to reduce and delay payments. Specialist Contractor’s efforts to avoid or rectify this problem often come too late in the process.

Don’t be one of the casualties, take action now.

Download “How To Get Paid” for free right now, and put an end to reduced, late and non-payment!

Whatever level your business is at, and whatever your specialisation I want to encourage you to experience and enjoy a better more profitable, less stressful way.

 

I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday email and that it gave you some food for thought, and please don’t hesitate to grab your Free Report at “How To Get Paid” and if you need any help with any of your business problems pick up the phone and give us a call on 01773 712116.

Payment Still Major Concern Despite Increased Workload

Specialist Contractors are still suffering from late payment on public sector projects despite an upturn in workload.

According to the latest survey payment remains a major concern for building services firms, with just 8 per cent of Specialist Contractors saying that public sector work was paid on time. And the private sector was even worse with just six per cent of respondents being paid within 30 days.

ECA CEO Steve Bratt said: “… payment continues to be a major concern to Specialist Contractors across the industry, with the overwhelming majority indicating that they are not paid within 30 days, which is now the widely understood measure of good practice”.

So, if you are not getting paid properly then don’t fall for the Contractor’s BS, because it is highly likely (there are some exceptions), that what they are telling you is a pack of lies.

Please don’t stand for late or underpayment.

Take action!

Take action to safeguard your business from the catastrophic impact of reduced, late, or non-payment in 2016.

If you don’t then it could cost you your business!

Unscrupulous Contractors use every trick in the book, to reduce and delay payments. Specialist Contractor’s efforts to avoid or rectify this problem often come too late in the process.

Don’t be one of the casualties, take action now.

Download “How To Get Paid” for free right now, and put an end to reduced, late and non-payment!

Whatever level your business is at, and whatever your specialisation I want to encourage you to experience and enjoy a better more profitable, less stressful way.

Our Very Best Ideas To Help Protect and Grow Your Business

We’d like you to have our very best ideas to help protect and grow your business over the next 12 months, and they’re now available in a set of 10 Relevant, Informative, No-Nonsense Video Presentations That Will Boost Your Success as a Specialist Contractor.

“Win Work-Get Paid-Make Money” was recorded live at our Conference this year, on one AMAZING DAY of presentations designed exclusively for Specialist Contractors by top industry experts.

It reveals all the business secrets you need to know about “Winning Work”, “Getting Paid” and “Making Money” in the Construction and Engineering Industries. But don’t take my word for it, here are a just a couple of the dozens of comments we got on the day;

“It was a fantastic conference with lots of useful information and actions to take away” Ollie Yeo – Security Direct Ltd

“Very interesting with excellent tips on sales and marketing, business planning and getting paid” Graham Holmes – Ground Control

** Why Else Should You Take a Look? **

Specialist Contractors make things happen. You have all the skills, you take all the risks, and incur all the costs, and it’s no exaggeration to say that without you nothing would ever get built.

Unfortunately, for many Specialist Contractors business is full of struggle. Financial struggle, personal struggle, dealing with staff and suppliers struggle. And most importantly, getting paid from tight fisted Contractors struggle. It’s a long list…

So if you would like some great ideas and information to help you and your staff avoid that struggle then please take a look at this; http://conferencevideo.streetwisesubbie.com/

You don’t need me to tell you how difficult it is to turn those jobs, and all your hard work into decent profits. But with profit margins for the top 25 firms dipping below 1.5 per cent, you can be sure that the Contractors aren’t going to make your life any easier just yet!

What we are going to share together is the expertise you need to turn all your hard work into better and worthwhile profits, whilst protecting your contractual interests.

Gain access today to “Win Work-Get Paid-Make-Money” recorded live at the exclusive StreetwiseSubbie Conference July 2015.

Simply click this link; http://conferencevideo.streetwisesubbie.com

And Watch At Your Leisure As Many Times As You Like!

Best regards

Barry

P. S. The presentations were eloquently summed up in three words by one of our Gold Buddies “Enjoyable, useful, informative!” Trevor Kirby – Anglian Architectural

Why Specialist Contractors Aren’t Getting Paid…

Sadly yet another Specialist Contractor went to the wall  this week as Wrexham-based specialist steelwork contractor L M Engineering Services went into administration.

No doubt that when the details come out they will show that the firm, which specialised in stainless steel structures for the nuclear and process industries, didn’t get paid on time!

It’s that simple!

Businesses fail because they don’t get paid when they should!

Businesses fail if they don’t get paid, even when they are profitable!

Scarily businesses fail faster when they are growing!

We see a lot of discussions about payment, in our free  LinkedIn group (see below) the complexities of the payment process, the penalties that late payment should attract and the difficulties of using existing dispute resolution processes.

As one of our contributors rightly said;

“You can make the punishments as tough as you like but if you can’t establish your basic entitlement to payment quickly and cheaply, the penalties just won’t be pursued.

When the amount “Due” and the “Final Date for Payment” are clear, existing remedies such as Adjudication, Late Payment of Commercial Debts and Small Claims are quick and easy to use and effective.”

Justin went on to suggest that to make effective use of these tools you need to know only 2 things

HOW MUCH? (am I due to be paid)

and

WHEN? (am I entitled to receive it).

And I absolutely agree with him. If you know these two things with certainty then the process of ensuring you get paid what you are entitled to, and on time, gets a lot easier.

Notice that I said “the process of ensuring you get paid” and “gets a lot easier”.

That’s because getting paid has to be treated as a process and it’s a process that’s never entirely easy!

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is the determination and ingenuity of certain unscrupulous Contractors when it comes to finding ways not to pay. As a result, many contractors have drafted payment regimes that comply with the letter of the Construction Act but completely avoid its intent.

So, the first part of the “process” is ensuring that you DO NOT sign up to contracts that you do not understand.

If You Don’t Understand It – Don’t Agree To It!

Very often that’s easier said than done!

Contractors know this and have put such convoluted payment terms in their “standard” contracts that it is very difficult to show that a payment actually became due at all.

Watch out for their ridiculous requirements for a “valid application” which is a precursor to a payment becoming “due.” These include full substantiation of all amounts applied for, copies of invoices, forecast final accounts with every interim application, etc.

That way they can say that your application doesn’t comply with the contractual requirements and no payment becomes “due”!

Don’t agree to these clauses unless you fully appreciate their impact. And don’t allow yourself to be pressured into doing so because you think you have no option because you want the work.

Do you want the work so much that you are prepared to do it for nothing?

Because that might very well be how it turns out!

Onerous Terms That Still Meet the Act!

If the contract complies with the Act then it is the contract which applies.

But remember, and beware, because the Act does not preclude the onerous requirements for substantiation and the like that certain Contractors may have put there!

If you are in any doubt about what the payment terms mean, or whether or not the terms and conditions are onerous you need to take professional advice and StreetwiseSubbie’s Nationwide Network of Consultants are experts in helping you to deal with such matters.

If you need help, you can call us for initial free advice on 01773 712116.