One in six MPs support an end to current retentions system

Political support for holding cash retentions in trust has soared over recent weeks, with over 100 MPs now in favour of ring-fencing of retention monies, according to the Building Engineering Services Association. 

Cross-party support for retentions reform includes Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, DUP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party and supporting MPs represent constituencies covering the whole of the UK.

Prominent supporters include shadow chancellor John McDonnell, shadow BEIS minister Rebecca Long-Bailey, Conservative ‘father of the House’ Kenneth Clarke, former digital economy minister Ed Vaizey, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas.

In addition, an Early Day Motion tabled by Bury North MP James Frith on 23 January received signatures from 61 MPs, calling on government to introduce new legislative proposals to put retentions in deposit protection schemes. Alongside the initial 12 co-sponsoring MPs of the ‘Aldous Bill’, BESA, ECA and SEC Group have received confirmation from other MPs that has taken the list of supporters over 100.

Supporting MPs have increased tenfold since Carillion collapsed in January, six days after the first reading of the Aldous Bill. The second reading of the bill is due to take place on Friday 27 April.

Peter Aldous MP said: “Industry support for reform to outdated payment systems is at unprecedented levels, for which I am very grateful. Construction is an essential underpinning of our lives and work, and we need to support the industry and especially SMEs to ensure future growth and prosperity. The petition being presented represents over 330,000 businesses and there are over 100 of my parliamentary colleagues that support reform to the practice of cash retentions.

“We have a golden opportunity to improve the industry for the better, level the playing field for SMEs and protect thousands and thousands of jobs. The industry loses around £1m for each working day, mostly from SMEs. There have been proposals to stop the abuse of retentions before, but this time there is the largest coalition on fair payments ever.”

David Frise, CEO of BESA said: “The urgent need for reform is clear from the cross-party support the Aldous Bill has. The impact from lost Carillion retention money on apprentices, jobs and investment in the sector is already evident. Holding cash retentions in trust will make sure that the money is safe and does what it is intended to do.”

In the wake of the Carillion collapse, a coalition of over 75 bodies (representing over 340,000 businesses) has united behind Peter Aldous’ retentions reform efforts, proposing that cash retentions owed to the supply chain are held in trust. A delegation from this coalition will join Peter Aldous next week to present a petition to 10 Downing Street.

In his spring statement last month chancellor Philip Hammond vowed to crack down on late payment culture by issuing a call for evidence on how “the continuing scourge of late payments” can be eliminated.

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