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Contractors' orders rise but late payment prevails

A rise in orders and expected workload shows the specialist sector may be stabilising, but it's far from out of the woods according to a survey by the National Specialist Contractors' Council (NSCC).
The NSCC's State of Trade survey results for the first quarter of 2010 show that specialist contractors' enquiries have risen by 9% and orders by 18% compared to the previous quarter.

This has led to a 17% rise in the number of specialist contractors predicting an increase in workload compared to this time last year.

Suppliers' prices have risen for the third successive quarter with 62% of specialist contractors reporting an increase in prices compared to 33% in September 2009. However, there has been almost no movement in tender prices during the same period with only 3% of respondents reporting an increase this quarter.

The NCSS says this problem is made worse by poor payment practices with 96% of specialist contractors waiting longer than 30 days for payment. This is in spite of a commitment from government to make payment within 30 days a contractual requirement in the public sector from April 2010.

Some 40% of monies withheld in retention from respondents were overdue for release.

A spokesman for the NSCC said: 'There is continued nervousness regarding the financial stability of clients and restricted lending from banks and this is impacting on capacity and expansion plans with only 52% of specialist contractors currently working at more than 75% capacity'.

(NSCC) brings together 31 specialist trade organisations. The NSCC State of Trade Survey is carried out quarterly and the results are analysed by the School of the Built Environment at Northumbria University. A copy of the NSCC State of Trade report is available at www.nscc.org.uk.
27 April 2010

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