ECA joins forces with Welsh Construction Forum & Welsh Government to promote project bank accounts

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  Posted by: electime      11th October 2021

Leading engineering services trade body ECA is working with the Welsh Construction Forum and Welsh Government to raise the profile of project bank accounts (PBAs) in the fight against unfair payment and business practices in construction. PBAs are vital in maintaining cash flow, bringing tangible business benefits and creating a more robust supply chain.

In a public and industry collaboration the industry body has devised practical measures to help increase the adoption of PBAs across public sector contracts.

An easy ‘how to’ guide – which is now published via Business Wales – provides a clear step by step process on how public clients and Tier 1 contractors can set up a project bank account.

One of the key requirements of the Welsh Government and Construction Forum established during the Covid-19 pandemic was to support the construction sector in particular with the certainty of future work pipeline and efficient procurement and payment processes.

Welsh Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters said: “I’m delighted that these simple to use Project Bank Accounts Guidelines have come out of the Construction Forum.

“These guidelines provide confidence to clients, contractors and small businesses regarding payments especially during these extraordinary times. The guide complements the detailed information and training available via Business Wales and Welsh Government.

“I am delighted that already some Local Authorities and contractors have used the guidelines to great effect and look forward to working with the construction sector to ensure a stable sustainable thriving sector in Wales.”

Steve Bratt, ECA CEO and lead on Business Environment policy welcomed the partnership with the Welsh Construction Forum and the Welsh Government on the PBAs guide and added:

“This is a great example of industry working together with the public sector to extend fair payment practices and responsible procurement across all public sector contracts. We hope to see many more follow this example and use PBAs to protect businesses from payment abuse and encourage better collaboration across the supply chain.”

Michelle Morgan-Loughman, ECA Regional Manager thanked the Welsh Construction Forum and its chair, the Minister Lee Waters MS, as well as the Welsh Construction Federation Alliance for supporting the guide. She added:

“It has been over three years since the Welsh Government mandated project bank accounts (PBAs) and its usage has already protected many Welsh SMEs in the construction supply chain from late payments and cashflow insecurities. This easy step by step guide will ensure wider adoption as this practice is embedded in public procurement and help the industry recover from the pandemic.

“We will continue our work with the Welsh Government to lower the threshold for using project PBAs from £2 million to £1 million. The long-term aim of ECA is for PBAs to become statutory across the whole of Welsh construction.”

David Kieft, Director of RDM Electrical and Mechanical Services, an ECA Member in Wales, welcomed the initiative. He added:

“Project bank accounts provide companies of all sizes in the construction supply chain the security of prompt payment avoiding costly delays and concentrating our resources in delivering high-quality projects for our clients.

“PBAs in Welsh Public Sector construction have gained significant momentum with almost £1bn of construction and infrastructure projects now using them. We hope that this practical guide will increase their take up across the industry.”

The Vale of Glamorgan Council was an early adopter of PBAs as part of their 21st Century Schools Programme with their first PBA launching in 2019.  Matthew Curtis, project manager on the programme from the Council commented:

“This guide would have been invaluable during those early stages, providing a simple step-by-step guide and outlining the key considerations along the way.  The introduction of PBAs provided the Council with an opportunity to revisit the entire payment process which has had wide ranging benefits for contractors, sub-contractors and the Council.”

From 1 January 2018, project bank accounts (PBAs) were mandated by the Welsh Government to be used on building projects over £2 million (procured by Welsh Government bodies).

A 12 Easy Step Guide to Setting Up a Project Bank Account in Wales is available to download here.