PAYMENT DELAYS have been targeted by construction's top clients in a plan which will see all stages of the construction procurement chain recorded and scrutinised.
The move is being driven by the Construction Round Table as one of the goals from its Agenda for Change strategy launched last November. This intends to improve the construction process, starting with better client leadership and behaviour.
CRT includes many of the industry's major clients such as Railtrack, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, BAA, Highways Agency, London Underground, Thames Water and PowerGen.
CRT's trading environment group plans to map payment and procurement practices of all its members - good and bad - and produce best practice guidelines.
Procedures will be introduced on demonstration projects put forward by CRT members in response to Sir John Egan's recent Construction Task Force report (NCE 23 July).
The Housing Grants Construction & Regeneration Act outlaws pay when paid practices and insists that payment mechanisms are established in the contract. However, the CRT has found that in practice many contractors and consultants are still withholding payments. CRT chairman and Railtrack development director Martin Reynolds said: 'We have to look at the 'blockers' that are affecting our behaviour as clients. We don't always know when we pay a supplier that he then pays his sub-suppliers. One of our success criteria is to see everyone is paid on time.'
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced this week that offering or taking part in a demonstration project would be the entry ticket to his post-Egan Movement for Innovation in Construction conference in October - 'a project or part of a project which will demonstrate an innovative process of construction, a new way of
working or a change in culture in dealing with the construction workforce or clients of the industry.' Construction Industry Board chairman Tony Jackson has joined paymaster general Geoffrey Robinson, construction minister Nick Raynsford and Sir John Egan on the Task Force steering group.