Late payment causes mental health issues finds new survey
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Nine out of ten bosses in the construction sector have suffered mental health issues caused by late payment.
The findings come from a survey jointly organised by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) and 25 other constuction trade bodies found a host of problems including stress, depression and suicidal thoughts.
A remarkable nine out of 10 business owners across construction suffer a range of mental health issues due to payment and other business pressures, according to a survey run by leading engineering services trade bodies BESA and ECA.
The survey, found that business owners have an array of significant mental health problems due to the pressures of late or unfair payment, including:
- Stress (80 per cent)
- Depression (36 per cent)
- Extreme anger (38 per cent)
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks (40 per cent)
- Insomnia (36 per cent)
- Suicidal feelings (10 per cent)
Over nine in 10 respondents (92 per cent) said their business had faced payment issues. Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) said they were paid late frequently or very frequently.
Unfair payment practices also have a significant impact on employees right across a business, in addition to CEOs, directors, managers and executives. Of all the respondents, four said they had attempted suicide as a result, while 80 per cent reported a mental health issue.
Furthermore, over four in 10 (41 per cent) of all respondents said that payment issues had strained their relationship with their partner, with five per cent reporting it caused it to breakdown entirely.
BESA CEO David Frise commented:
“Systemic payment abuse causes broken lives and broken buildings and must be stamped out. The economic damage of these practices is well known but this survey has shed light onto its devastating human cost. Thousands of owners and workers of SMEs have struggled and suffered with this abuse for too long and with a General Election underway they will be reflecting upon who will most likely represent their concerns.”
ECA Director of CSR Paul Reeve commented:
“Everybody expects business to deal with everyday pressures, but stress and other mental health impacts come from sustained and excessive pressure. It’s absolutely clear from these findings that poor payment is a serious cause of mental health issues across the industry and that the problem, far from being isolated to certain individuals, is commonplace among top management.
“These problems quickly knock on to employees and families alike. Findings such as these mean that clients and other buyers need to greatly improve their approach to supply chain payment and it’s a sad reflection on the industry that it will probably take legislation to achieve it.”
ECA Director of Business Rob Driscoll concludes:
“The next Government must take immediate action on cash retentions and other payment abuses, by legislating for change. Doing so will help to address the serious findings in this survey and actually help construction to achieve its aspirations of delivering excellence for clients and being an industry that’s attractive to new talent.”
About the survey
This survey, aimed mainly at business owners, CEOs and managers, was run by ECA and BESA, in association with the Prompt Payment Directory. The survey received 613 responses in total, with 213 of these from business owners and sole traders. It was held between 12 September and 10 October 2019.
The survey was also supported by 25 other construction industry organisations:
- Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA)
- Association of British Certification Bodies (ABCB)
- Association of Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Specialists (AGS)
- British Blind and Shutter Association
- British Coatings Federation
- British Constructional Steelwork Association (BCSA)
- British Drilling Association (BDA)
- Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors
- Confederation of Construction Specialists
- Confederation of Roofing Contractors
- Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA)
- Fire & Security Association (FSA)
- Modular and Portable Building Association (MPBA)
- National Federation of Builders (NFB)
- Refrigeration Compliance (REFCOM)
- Scaffolding Association
- Scottish & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF)
- SEC Group
- Single Ply Roofing Association