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BESA backs new late pay rules

UK: The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has welcomed the latest government measure to tackle persistent late payment in construction supply chains.

Main contractors will now have to prove they have paid at least 85% of invoices to sub-contractors inside 60 days or face being barred from bidding for lucrative public sector work from next April under new rules introduced by the Cabinet Office.

Currently, procurement rules state that 75% of invoices must be paid within that timescale in at least one of the last two six-month reporting periods. However, BESA along with a number of other trade bodies has been calling for tougher targets since the rule came into effect a year ago.

“We are pleased to see the Cabinet Office is now pushing for companies to do better,” said the Association’s director of legal Debbie Petford. “After all, 60 days is not exactly generous, and SMEs should be receiving money they are owed even quicker than that.”

BESA is concerned that the current Covid-19 crisis is being used as an excuse by some large firms to delay payments, putting further pressure on already stretched sub-contractor cashflows. BESA also claims to have some evidence of the pandemic being used as a smokescreen for more unfair contract conditions.

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