Industry leaders meet Lord Mandelson

The impact of the current economic crisis on small and medium-sized enterprises in the construction industry has been highlight to Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform. Following his recent statement in the House of Lords that he would seek to improve cashflow for SMEs by requiring public-sector purchasers to pay their bills within 10 days, representatives of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group met him for a further discussion of payment issues. Claire Curtis-Thomas led the SEC delegation and assured the secretary of state that the most effective solution was for the Government to ensure that project bank accounts were established as a matter of routine for all public-sector contracts. SEC Group chairman Trevor Hursthouse added that a positive response from Lord Mandelson to this proposal could significantly reduce the risk of widespread insolvencies across construction. Claire Curtis-Thomas says, ‘The implementation of project bank accounts across UK construction would revolutionise payment practices in the construction industry and make a significant contribution to resolving the current problems affecting SMEs.’

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