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A roofing company from Lowestoft is urging the big companies in the construction sector to pay their bills on time, and help the smaller sub contractors continue their recovery from the recession.

“There is no doubt that the sector is rapidly growing and recovering, but there is still this issue of the big boys demanding sometimes 60 day payment terms to their sub-contractors, which is making things very difficult for businesses like us who are managing cash flow whilst trying to invest in training and development” said Jackie Biswell of Lowestoft based Apex Roofing.

“We need the bigger companies to be a little more supportive of their supply chain and help us out by paying their bills on time” she added. “The sector is such a huge player in economic growth, but the sub-contractors are the foundations of the industry, and nothing can get built without the likes of bricklayers, roofers, scaffolders and plasterers.”

“Small businesses don’t have big cash reserves to tide them over month to month, so as their books fill up prompt payment is essential. Most small firms would prefer to be paid within a month of invoicing, yet when dealing with large companies at the helm of the supply chain, they’re rarely in a position to walk away if they don’t like the terms on offer”.

The construction industry is notorious for a culture of unfairly long payment terms, with 19 per cent of specialist building contractors are paid between 60 and 90 days.

The Prompt Payment Code, set up by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in 2008 to encourage best practice between organisations and their suppliers, has recently been blasted as a failure by Lord Digby Jones, who said that he has known large companies to deliberately try to extend their payment terms as a business strategy.

“I have sat in on board meetings of big companies who have said ‘we are paying on 60 days, let’s see if we can push it out to 90. If you are going to do it please don’t do it to small businesses. It is really damaging.”

As a specialist contractor who has enjoyed a buoyant start to the year Jackie wants the larger firms to work in partnership with their suppliers and sub-contractors to ensure everyone benefits from a blossoming construction sector. “They need us and we need them so we need to work together to ensure all parties are happy with the financial set up.”


Notes to editors

  1. Apex Scaffolding was set up in 1999 and is one of Anglia’s leading scaffolding contractors
  2. Apex Roofing was set up in 2012 due to demand and has enjoyed a successful first year