Wise Up Wednesday: Payment – The Smoke and Mirrors

Whilst the industry is facing a whole host of issues, payment is far and away the biggest and most divisive issue.

As a Specialist Contractor the simple truth is that if you don’t get paid, you don’t have a business.

If you spend most of your time trying to get paid, you have less time to address all the other issues that need your attention, and as for planning for the future, you probably can’t think beyond the end of the month.

So, why are we as an industry failing to recognise this and why isn’t it being properly addressed? Regrettably, it is such a major problem and such a controversial issue that even when it is discussed, the truth seems to be largely absent.

Here are some facts

Streetwisesubbie.com recently supported a piece of statistically significant academic research. With some 502 respondents, its findings cannot be ignored. Some 354 of the respondents were Sub-Contractors, and over 70% of respondents had a turnover exceeding £1 million. Proper firms are facing very real problems. Here’s what the survey uncovered:

  • A total of 87.17% of Subcontractor’s main issue of dispute was regarding payment, compared to 64.21% of contractors suggesting Contractors receives payment within the agreed terms more frequently than their Sub-Contractors.
  • Even on public sector projects, only 25% of Subcontractors were paid on time, and on private sector projects that fell to just 15%.
  • Subcontractors were subject to set off on 88.7% of their projects, and between 9% and 34% (depending on turnover) said they were subject to set off on every project!

So, what’s to be done?

A staggering 95.66% believed that neither the government nor the trade bodies were doing enough to tackle the problems in the industry!

So, I say let’s start by cutting out the spin, and the BS, and the smoke and mirrors!

  • Lots of Contractors don’t pay their Subcontractors properly. What’s difficult about saying that?
  • Everyone knows what good payment looks like! Pay on time and value fairly.
  • The Supply Chain Payment Charter isn’t even legally enforceable, never mind the fact that only a handful of major Contractors have even signed up to it!
  • The Duty to Report on Payment Practices legislation (requiring large companies to report on their payment practices) are so woolly that they won’t tell anyone anything.
  • Those companies that engage in such practices certainly won’t be reporting on their under-certification and wrongful set off.

Why does it matter?

Here are a few recent headlines to contemplate:

  • Suppliers and subcontractors are owed around £2bn by Carillion’
  • Subbies and suppliers owed £7bn in unpaid invoices’
  • ‘Subbies owed £4m after Titan Construction Management collapse’.
  • ‘Subbies under attack from new breed of aggressive QS’.

Want To Know How To protect Your Business?

Come  and discover the Secret Keys To Minimise Risk and Maximise Profit, that we have been putting into practice on behalf of Specialist Subcontractors for the last 28 years.

And they’re are being revealed at our July 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 fast access venues are as follows;

Last few places available

12 July – Birchwood Park and Country ClubDartford Close to M25 and M20

17 July – Watford SOLD OUT >>>  SOLD OUT >>>

18 July – Marriott Hotel Waltham Abbey Close to M25, M11 and A10

Here’s what your fellow Subcontractors have said about this seminar;

“Easily digestible information delivered in an interesting and easy to understand format”

“Very detailed and informative”

“Very informative and well delivered”

“We were struggling to get paid; not any longer!”


Session 1 – Contract Formation

Session 2 – Introduction to JCT Contracts and Construction Act

Session 3 – Time, Notices and Delay and Disruption

Session 4 – Instructions, Variations and Maximising Return

Session 5 – Getting Paid On Time and the Right Amount

Session 6 – Resolving Conflicts and Disputes

Session 7 – Putting It All Together


Our events are exclusively for Specialist Contractors so you are in the friendly company of other Specialist Contractors, and everything is designed to provide a broad appeal for all Specialist Contractors staff including;

Estimators, Contracts Managers; Project Managers; Commercial Managers, Quantity Surveyors, Credit Controllers and Directors


The Secrets To Getting Paid and Minimising Risk and Maximising Profit! Specialist Contractors don’t get paid because they don’t understand the contract or don’t apply it when they should. We will reveal all you need to know to enable you to understand the fundamentals of those subcontracts, and how to get paid.


The value of this whole days training is £350 + VAT, however, you can get your Early Bird booking  discount and enjoy the reduced rates as follows;

10% discount when you book one place

20 % discount when you book 2 or more places

And if you are a member and StreetwiseSubbie Buddy (or join us now), you are eligible for even more heavily discounted preferential rates.

All rates are subject to VAT

Booking couldn’t be simpler, just contact us directly on 01773 712116 or email me at tanya@streetwisesubbie.com to confirm your places.

Thanks and best regards,



P.S. Please remember that we are here to provide solutions exclusively for Subcontractors. If you want the Secret Keys To Getting Paid Properly or have a payment problem, not sure what to do or just want a second opinion, then we are here for you. Please give us a call on 01773 712116, or email info@streetwisesubbie.com today.

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Construction’s a tough place to do business right now, and Specialist Contractors need all the help you can get. That’s why you will find our resources and expertise are invaluable, whatever the size of your business and whatever your specialisation. We’re here to help you solve all your business problems, including the crucially important contractual ones, such as getting paid.

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StreetwiseSubbie.com Ltd
17 Ilkeston Road
DE75 7DR

Helpline: +44 (0)1773 712116
Email: info@streetwisesubbie.com