The outlook for the specialist sector is increasingly positive according to the latest NSCC State of Trade Survey, which shows a record high of 60% of respondents are anticipating an increased workload for the upcoming year. However payment remains a concern for most specialists.

The results of the quarterly survey reveal the extent to which the industry is still widely afflicted by the issue of late payment with 76% of respondents reporting payment between 30 and 60 days. Telling comments from specialist contractors included “late payment is a killer” and “we have a good workload and repeat work but late payment means that our cashflow is always critical”.

However, with 26% of respondents also indicating that they are experiencing increasing difficulty finding the right candidates for specialist work, the highest it’s been since Q2 2007, the question for many businesses is whether this growth can be sustained.

NSCC is committed to improving payment practices in the industry through its Fair Payment Campaign and issued a comprehensive response to the recent Government discussion paper, Building a Responsible Payment Culture. NSCC is also involved in the development of a construction supply chain payment charter, which is an action within the Industrial Strategy; Construction 2025 designed to “create the conditions for construction supply chains to thrive”.

NSCC Chief Executive Suzannah Nichol said: “Given the improved outlook for specialist contractors, it is more important than ever that we safeguard the long term growth of the industry by investing in our workforce and ensuring fair payment practices are implemented throughout the supply chain.”

NSCC contributes its findings to the State of Trade Survey published by the Construction Products Association, enabling the experiences of the specialist sector to be compared with the wider industry.