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28th January 2021


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We have Mail: Build UK

Dear Jan,

The 1st September 2015 saw the launch of Build UK, the organisation formed as a result of the merger between the National Specialist Contractors Council and the UK Contractors Group.

Build UK's claim is to provide, "for the first time, a single voice for the whole of the contracting supply chain and offers a real opportunity to transform construction".

A very worthy aim and one which a great many of the people who work in construction would subscribe to I have no doubt. But, and it's a big but, I for one doubt that this noble mission will be achieved by this new body.

1) Build UK is made up of "27 of the largest major contractors" and "40 trade associations representing over 11,500 specialist contractors". Setting aside the deep rooted divisions, how on earth can 67 separate businesses and associations speak with one single voice? And indeed why do they need to?

Each one will undoubtedly have its own separate agenda and - come on - main contractors and specialist contractors singing from the same hymn sheet? It's like Chelsea and Arsenal joining forces - it will never happen.

2) There are, indeed, some huge household names cited in the member and partnership section of the Build UK website. If you contacted any of them tomorrow, would they know the specific aims of "the 'go to' representative organisation for industry stakeholders"?

Even if they did, would they be able to explain exactly how these aims are being achieved on a day-to-day basis by the organisation that purports to "provide influential and dynamic leadership and a joined up approach from the supply chain"?

3) Build UK professes to "focus on key industry issues that can deliver change and enable the contracting supply chain to improve the efficiency and delivery of construction projects to the benefit of the industry's clients". Just take a look at any one of those 'issues' and you'll realise that Build UK has a truly immense task on its hands to offer solutions. They could be at this a while...

Look at how long the NSCC campaigned for Fair Payment without any real success. And by the way, why has all that work and national surveys etc. been seemingly expunged from the record? What is there to hide?

4) On the subject of payment there is a very quick win for Build UK in the shape of the 'fair payment practices' issue. I'll give the executive board the solution to this one for free. Cut through the PR flimflam of "considering what fair payment practice in the construction industry looks like" - we ALL know what it currently looks like and it's both soul and business destroying. Fact.

Main contractors, pay your subbies on time, every time and what they are genuinely owed, and cut out the trumped up set offs that you hide behind to hold onto your cash!

There we are; problem resolved at a stroke. Now that was easy wasn't it?

5) In Build UK's Action Plan, it states: "quite simply, construction is what everything else relies on".

It's very refreshing to hear this tone of voice but, quite frankly, they're hollow words. UK construction is a huge, multi-billion pound industry employing millions of people which is why the Government, and the banks, can't let it fail. But they are only interested in the big players.

The problem is, no one cares about the Specialist Contractors and the tiers of subcontractors at the very bottom of the pile that are being failed by the existing system. Six construction firms are going bust every single day but no one at the top cares*. Well they should.

Why does all this matter? The reason is simple. Take the Specialist Contractors and their money out of the equation, and there would be no UK construction industry.

I could go on, and if anyone from Build UK, board directors, members or partners, Trade Associations and individual Specialist Contractors would like to contact me, I will gladly discuss how we can work together.

Perhaps it's time for a completely new approach to construction?

Yours sincerely

Barry Ashmore, Co-founder of StreetwiseSubbie
T: 01773 712116
E: [email protected]
W: www.streetwisesubbie.com

9th October 2015

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