Help knock this peril on the head
It was never going to be easy to dislodge 180 years of retention abuse and malpractice, and the second reading of the Construction (Retention Deposit Schemes) Bill has now been moved again – this time to 26 October 2018. The Bill – commonly known as the Aldous Bill after the MP who introduced it – will outlaw cash retentions unless they are deposited in a separate ring-fenced account or scheme. The Bill was due its second reading on 15 June but was also competing with many other Bills waiting to be debated.
However, moving it to October will mean that it continues to be a pressure point on the UK Government to act to curb the abuse. So far, ministers have expressed sympathy for the Bill, but there is no sign of government actively supporting it, or even adopting it. Civil servants are relying on a perceived lack of consensus in the industry on the way forward. One organisation, Build UK – whose membership includes some of the largest UK contractors – is arguing for legislation to ban cash retentions completely by 2023. Nobody would disagree with this aim, but now that we have an opportunity to legislate to protect the monies, let’s ALL get on board. As I’ve said many times in CABLEtalk, I believe that ring-fencing the monies will mean that the demand for them will significantly reduce; if they can’t be used and abused what would be the point of deducting them?
Where to now?
Eradicating retentions abuse would be a fantastic prize but winning a victory of this nature requires hard work. So we must really up our game. You’ll already know SELECT has been treating this issue as a priority, as has SEC Group Scotland. UK-wide, SEC Group has also been working hard to promote the Bill throughout the UK. The result is that some 180 MPs out of 650 in the House of Commons now support it.
But trade associations can only do so much – which is why SELECT Members like you can help us get a majority by continuing to force the issue at every opportunity. There are still Westminster MPs in Scotland who haven’t indicated their support for the Aldous Bill – yet. This is likely to be because they haven’t been approached by a constituent asking them to do so. No matter how many briefings SEC Group and SELECT do, MPs will always prioritise requests from their constituents, so it really is worth reaching out to them.
Our step-by-step guide below will show you how to get in touch. So if you live or have a business in any of the constituencies, email your MP – and help us nail this tiresome problem once and for all.
Go to the Parliament website search page at www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
Enter the postcode of where you live or where your business is located. The relevant MP’s name will appear.
Check the contact details. If there are email addresses for the MP’s Parliamentary Office and Constituency Office, use both.
Send the message below to your MP. Once you’ve done so, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Send this email to your MP Dear [MP NAME]
I live (or have a business) in your constituency. The Construction (Retentions Deposit Schemes) Bill is extremely relevant to the business I’m involved in which is electrical engineering design, installation and maintenance.
In the construction industry, firms such as mine are required to offer a retention of 5 per cent. This is deducted from our due payments and is therefore, legally, ours.
The primary motive for deducting these monies is to bolster the cash flow of the company withholding them, rather than using them for the stated purpose of providing security in case of failure to rectify non-compliant work.
The amount of retentions lost in the wake of the Carillion collapse is likely to be astronomical; some commentators suggest it could be as much as three quarters of a BILLION pounds or even more. These monies would have come from small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The Bill I mentioned is a Private Member’s Bill, which was introduced by Peter Aldous MP on 9 January. Its second reading is now due to take place on 26 October 2018.
The Bill will outlaw cash retentions unless they are ring-fenced in a separate account or scheme, similar to the existing statutory tenancy deposit schemes.
The purpose of contacting you is to ask whether you would be able to support the Bill. I look forward to hearing from you. For more information about retentions, see bit.ly/SEC_cashflow
Tell us your horror stories Have you any retentions horror stories? What’s been your longest wait for release of cash? We’re building up a dossier, so please email email@example.com and tell us your story. You can also contact SELECT if you have any news or thoughts on what else we should be doing. There can be no let up. We must win this!