ECA & BESA join forces to submit retentions plan to government
Following the collapse of Carillion last month, an action plan has been put forward to the Government by leading engineering services bodies, the BESA and ECA, to lay the issue of cash retention in construction to rest.
The BESA and ECA’s submission includes a request for the Government to put retentions in trust as a key first step, with the Peter Aldous Bill seen as a suitable legislative vehicle. This would then be a stepping stone on an industry roadmap to full abolition of retentions in the near future.
The submission includes results from a 2017 survey, which reveals that 92 per cent of respondents said they have faced construction retentions during the last three years, with two-thirds of current contracts involving retentions. Over half faced total retentions of over £100,000 against current contracts;
Many respondents wait an extra six months longer to get their retention monies than the typical 12 months defect liability period. The average amount of monies held over the past three years, which has not been paid back after the completion date and is thus outstanding, is £34,826.
ECA Director of Business Paul Reeve commented: “Prompt and fair payment is essential for industry collaboration, increased productivity and investment. Putting retentions in trust is vital to making early progress with protecting and supporting SMEs. Looking forward, it would help the industry not just to survive, but to modernize and deliver on the new sector deal”.
BESA Director of Legal and Commercial Rob Driscoll commented: “The Government’s Industrial Strategy relies on an engineering services sector which has both the capability and capacity to continue to deliver against UK demand. Recent events have shone a spotlight on just how critical prompt and fair payment is to ensure a financially healthy, innovative and productive sector best achieved through a move away from the use of retentions.”
Source: Electrical Times
Unexpected boiler repairs cost UK homes over £725m last year
UK households have paid out more than £725 million in unexpected boiler repair bills in the past year, according to data from uSwitch.com.
Nearly a fifth of consumers (17%) – the equivalent of over four million households – have experienced at least one boiler breakdown in the last 12 months. The research found that the average cost to repair a boiler breakdown was £245, adding up to a collective cost of £725 million. However, 4% of those experiencing a breakdown faced a repair bill that exceeded £1,250.
To cover the cost of an unexpected boiler breakdown, nearly half of households (48%) say they would rely on their savings. However, 3.5 million (13%) say they would have to rely on credit cards or take out a bank loan.
Shona Eyre, Energy Expert at uSwitch.com, said: “Boiler breakdown can be a real-life nightmare for many families, and the temperamental British weather doesn’t help matters. It’s not just the financial impact of having to fix a boiler, having to go without hot water and heating for any length of time can be a huge hardship for many families.”
Source: HVP Magazine
Schneider Electric launches Go Green in the City 2018
Schneider Electric has launched Go Green in the City 2018, its global contest to find bold ideas and innovative solutions for smarter, more energy-efficient cities, which is now in its eighth year.
In 2017, nearly 20,000 young innovators from 3,000 universities in 180 countries took part. The stakes for Go Green in the City competitors are high, with mentoring, networking, travel, cash prizes and business/job opportunities all on the horizon.
In 2018, the competition is also offering a wider range of topics. Students are invited to submit their bold ideas in one of five categories, including sustainability and inclusivity, the digital economy, smart supply chain, cyber security, or ‘no boundaries/bold idea for going green’ (any topic).
Olivier Blum, chief human resources officer at Schneider Electric commented, “Schneider Electric has a bold vision to solve our planet’s energy paradox. Go Green in the City was designed as a platform for young innovators to become a part of this vision. Helping students to develop their bold ideas for new sustainable solutions, and gain a foothold in our industry is a great way for us to accelerate positive change.”
Raja Jain and Nimisha Gupta from IIT Roorkee in India won first place in the 2017 Go Green in the City final for their ‘Evacool’ air-cooling system. They said, “Go Green in the City has been a dream come true. Winning the competition has given us such a great sense of achievement, as well as a rich learning experience. If you care about how technology can promote greener practices and sustainability, you will not get a better opportunity than this.”
Teams must be composed of two students attending accredited business or engineering schools in the same country for the duration of the competition. Each team should include at least one female member, in-line with Schneider Electric’s policy of promoting Diversity and Inclusion. The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2018.
All shortlisted teams will receive mentoring by Schneider Electric experts to produce viable business cases to present at one of seven regional semi-finals over the summer in Europe, North America, China, India, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and South America. Each of the seven regional winners will then be invited to prepare for the competition final, along with one outstanding all-female team and two ‘wild-card’ teams (additional teams selected from the semi-finalists).
After this second round of mentoring, ten teams will meet at the global final in the United States in the autumn. The global winning team selected by the executive jury, will be offered the chance to start a career at Schneider Electric, after an international travel to visit any two locations of their choice worldwide, where Schneider Electric offices are present.
Source: Electrical Contracting News
Trade apprentices to earn £2,000 above the national average by 2022, says Screwfix
According to research conducted by Screwfix, plumbing apprentices are set to earn at least £2,500 a year more than the national average by 2022, bringing their average salary to over £27,500.
This comes from new research commissioned by Screwfix, which examined ONS salary data from 2010-17 to forecast future earnings of apprentices entering a profession. The research was commissioned as part of its Trade Apprentice initiative, which aims to celebrate and champion the best trade apprentices and future stars of the trade.
Along with plumbers, electricians are predicted to be future high earners with a forecasted wage of over £31,000 per annum. Plumbers are forecast to see a 5% increase (over £300), while electricians are to see a rise of 3% (over £150).
Graham Bell, Screwfix CEO, said: “The research supports our belief at Screwfix that a trade apprenticeship is a strong career choice for young people in this country. Apprenticeships lead to careers in highly skilled jobs, which are in high demand and therefore attract a healthy, competitive salary. For young people starting out they offer a great career choice without the burden of large debts from university fees.”
Source: HVP Magazine
Big four accountants accused of feasting on Carillion
A joint inquiry by two select committees has published a breakdown of fees collected by KPMG, PwC, Deloitte and EY.
This reveals the big four billed the company, pension schemes and the Government nearly £72m since 2008 relating to Carillion.
Field Field, chairman of the work and pensions committee, said: “The image of these companies feasting on what was soon to become a carcass will not be lost on decent citizens.
“We saw at the end of our evidence session that the former directors of Carillion are, unlike their pensioners, suppliers and employees, alright.
“These figures show that, as ever, the Big Four are alright too. All of them did extensive – and expensive – work for Carillion.”
PwC, now handling the liquidation process, came in for particular criticism.
He added: “PWC managed to play all three sides – the company, pension schemes and the Government – to the tune of £21m and are now being paid to preside over the carcass of the company as Special Managers.
“It was perhaps telling that, with their three fellow oligarchs conflicted, PWC were appointed to this lucrative position without any competition.”
Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said watchdog MPs would question KPMG about its role in auditing Carillion’s accounts before the group’s collapse with over £1.3bn of debt.
Reeve said: “KPMG has serious questions to answer about the collapse of Carillion.
“Either KPMG failed to spot the warning signs, or its judgement was clouded by its cosy relationship with the company and the multi-million pound fees it received.
“For the sake of all those who lost their jobs at Carillion and in the interests of better corporate governance, KPMG should, as a bare minimum, review its processes and explain what went wrong.”
KPMG, who will be questioned in Parliament, have audited Carillion’s accounts every year since the company’s inception in 1999, receiving £29.4m in fees in the process.
In documents submitted to the joint committee, KPMG does not accept any suggestion of blame but said it conducted its work “appropriately and responsibly”.
PwC said: “It’s appropriate that the Joint Committee consider all aspects of the collapse of Carillion and we will continue to cooperate fully with their enquiries.
“The Joint Committee’s request for information dates back to 2008 and the majority of the work that PwC undertook directly for Carillion was carried out prior to June 2015 rather than in the last few months before its collapse.
“Our technical skills and ability to deal with complex business problems led to our appointments to work for the Government and the Pension trustees.
“While there are only four large professional services firms, the market has been subject to extensive review by the Competition Commission (now succeeded by the Competition & Markets Authority) and European Commission. We comply with all rules that have resulted from these extensive reviews.”
Source: Construction Enquirer
Bid race for £190m Manchester town hall revamp
Manchester City Council has started the hunt for a management contractor to deliver its ambitious Town Hall and Albert Square Revamp.
The client project team includes Mace appointed late last year as project manager and architect Purcell, which has worked up designs to refurbish the Grade I-listed landmark building, opened in 1877.
The project is expected to be worth up to £190m and will run for around four years.
City council procurement chiefs hope to shortlist five firms to bid with the successful contractor appointed in early December.
The winning firm will be responsible for managing the project and procuring around 80 subcontracts ranging from £10,000 – £40m.
Works will include restoring the Great Hall and its Ford Madox Brown murals, as well as external repairs to the roof, stonework and drains. The council also says ‘significant work’ is needed to address the electrics, heating, ventilation and lifts in the building.
The Council is using the Chest procurement portal with expressions of interest required by 19 March.
Source: Construction Enquirer
Driving more business for LPG Installers
LPG supplier Calor is promoting its ‘Find an Installer’ tool which helps potential customers find a local LPG gas engineer for their boiler service, installation and maintenance. Installers who are LPG Qualified and Gas Safe registered are encouraged to sign up for Calor’s Installer Community in order to appear in the Finder’s search results, all free of charge. Being included on the Finder means installers can be contacted directly by homeowners currently using LPG for their heating, or those interested in switching to Calor LPG.
Matt Dunford, National Field Sales Manager at Calor, says: “If you’re a heating installer working in a rural area, LPG offers your customers all the convenience and reliability of mains gas. We’re constantly looking for new ways to work alongside rural installers and help them with any LPG support they need. Our ‘Find an Installer’ tool is another way for us to share business opportunities with our Installer Community.
“We are also offering an Installer Incentive Scheme, where we’ll reward you with up to £250 for every LPG customer you recommend who goes on to become a Calor customer.”
LPG qualified heating installers can learn about the benefits of Calor LPG and inclusion on the Finder by meeting up with a local Calor representative. To find out more, visit www.calor.co.uk/installer
Source: PHAM News
Tackling gender inequality must be priority, says NICEIC
“Tackling gender inequality must be a trade priority,” NICEIC CEO Emma Clancy has said.
As the nation celebrates the 100th anniversary of the female vote Emma has said that despite a certain level of progress in other industries, gender disparity still remains a prevalent issue in the electrical and wider construction sectors.
“February 6, 1918, was an important milestone in our history, but it only marked the start of a journey that we are still on today to bring about equality,” commented Emma.
“The unfortunate reality is that, despite great progress being made in breaking down gender barriers in other areas of life, there is still a huge job to do in the construction industry.
“In the electrical industry alone, women only make up around 1% of the total workforce. As an industry we need to broaden our approach to recruitment and the image we portray.”
NICEIC continues to promote opportunities for women in the electrical industry through its Jobs for the Girls campaign.
The campaign has helped bring greater focus to the issue and while perceptions of the construction industry are changing, Emma believes there are still more steps that can be taken to create a more inclusive environment.
“There are some great success stories out there of women who have made a great career in the electrical industry,” added Emma.
“They are real trailblazers and evidence that the industry is changing. However, the numbers are still painfully low and many young women are still pushed into careers such as hairdressing or childcare as it is the perceived norm.
“We need to change the perception of the industry as one traditionally for boys and make it more inclusive and appealing to women. Young females need see it as a viable, exciting career option from the very beginning.
“What we have found in particular is that women who do become electricians often do so later on in life – when in fact they could have started out much sooner if they had the appropriate information or encouragement.”
For more information, visit the NICEIC’s Jobs for the Girls campaign.
Source: Electrical Contracting News
World Plumbing Day is coming up
The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) is reminding the industry that 11 March 2018 is World Plumbing Day.
Initiated by the World Plumbing Council (WPC), World Plumbing Day highlights the global water and sanitation crisis, while also promoting the important role that plumbing plays in the health and safety of modern society.
While here in the UK, we feel a million miles away from dangers of severe water shortages and the sanitation crisis seen in the developing world; that is not to say that all UK water systems are safe. With longstanding issues such as hot water scalding, Legionnaires Disease, lead in pipework and pollution caused by plumbing misconnections, we are still very much living in a time where even first world plumbing problems can be deadly.
Kevin Wellman, CEO of the CIPHE, said: “Days such as World Plumbing Day highlight both the good and the bad in our vital and vibrant industry. We know the health of the nation sits on having safe, clean drinking water and effective sanitation. While the majority of tradespeople are out there working to an exceptional standard, each year people are still being severely injured and killed by poorly designed, installed and maintained plumbing systems.
“Plumbers are also on the frontline in the fight to conserve water, while safekeeping our families and the environment we live in. At the CIPHE, we believe that education and knowledge is the key to fighting a variety of problems in the industry. We wholeheartedly celebrate the role that plumbers make to our everyday lives, but still recognise more needs to be done to make all plumbing systems safe and sustainable.”
Source: HVP Magazine
Triveneta admits production fault in flexible cord
Italian cable company, La Triveneta Cavi (LTC), has confirmed it experienced a production fault last year that resulted in flexible cord cable with exposed copper conductors, on sale in the UK, reports the Approved Cables Initiative (ACI).
The cables, which failed the British and European Standards flex test, were found on sale following random market place sampling by the ACI. The Initiative has recently stepped up this programme of surveillance following an increase in reporting of substandard cable.
In a written notification, LTC outlined that the incident, which the ACI originally reported in November last year, may be attributed to the `running-in’ phase of a new production plant in Moldova at the end of 2016 and into early 2017.
Since the ACI’s original announcement, certification body IMQ has indicated that it has been addressing issues identified during routine surveillance work with the Triveneta factory in question. These issues were being dealt with in accordance with the HAR scheme rules and IMQ requirements.
The company has also confirmed it is working with IMQ and that during the latest inspections at its production site by IMQ, no problems or anomalies were detected. BASEC also reported that testing of a further batch of cable passed relevant tests.
In September last year, tests of cable samples were commissioned by the ACI and carried out by three independent sources. All showed similar results. Other non-conforming results were also noted but the exposed copper conductors were deemed to be the most dangerous failing of the tested cable.
All cable samples failed flex tests under BS EN 50525-2-11 2014.
The affected three core 1.5sq.mm cords could potentially be fitted to vacuum cleaners, electric drills and extension leads, all of which are exposed to constant flexing during their everyday use. The ACI believes the copper conductor strands which penetrated the PVC insulation and sheathing during the test could cause serious electric shock or even death if they come into contact with a user.
The samples of Triveneta flexible cords which were tested were marked with the manufacturer’s identification ‘La Triveneta Cavi’ and carried a 2016 manufacturing date. They were also marked with the IEMMEQU <HAR> approval mark. The failed flexible cords were orange and white in colour – however the ACI advises that all colours should be treated with great caution.
For further advice on this issue and other substandard cable can be found at www.aci.org.uk.
Source: Electrical Contracting News
Financial concerns hit construction’s largest sectors
The Construction Products Association’s Construction Trade Survey 2017 has revealed that the proportion of companies in the construction supply chain struggled with rising costs for raw materials, labour and energy has remained elevated in each quarter, last year.
The survey found that although activity continued to increase for main contractors, SME builders, product manufacturers and specialist contractors during the quarter, civil engineering firms reported the first fall in workloads in four years. Net balances for orders, enquiries and expected product sales for the year ahead weakened, and contractors reported lower orders in the commercial, infrastructure, industrial and public non-housing sectors. Combined, these sectors account for over 40 per cent of total construction output.
Rises in fuel and energy costs were prevalent among heavy side product manufacturers, reflecting the lagged impact of Sterling’s deprecation during 2016 on hedged commodity prices.
This, in combination with existing price pressures for raw materials and labour, has intensified the cost inflation passing through the supply chain.
Overall, costs were reported higher for 82 per cent of civil engineering contractors, whilst raw materials increased for 82 per cent of main contractors and 91 per cent of light side product manufacturers.
Commenting on the survey, Rebecca Larkin, Senior Economist at the CPA, said: The Q4 survey marked the fourth consecutive quarter of falling profit margins among building contractors. This combined with Carillion’s liquidation at the start of this year only emphasizes the financial strains exerted by a protracted period of rising costs passing through the supply chain. Falls in new orders reported in the four sizeable sectors of commercial, infrastructure, industrial and public non-housing add another downside to the outlook for 2018 given the early signs of slowing activity at the end of last year.
Source: Electrical Times
North London £650m Heat and Power project open day
North London Waste Authority (NLWA) will be holding an industry open day, in London, for the construction sector on 6 March 2018. This is for the companies who want to be part of a project that offers a range of construction activities over approximately the next ten years. By building the facilities, it will enable the sustainable management of waste in North London in the long term.
The construction work will deliver the North London Heat and Power Project (NLHPP) at Edmonton EcoPark – a 16 hectare site in the Upper Lee Valley.
Providing a vital asset for NLWA, the project will ensure the ability to dispose of waste responsibly and cost effectively for many years to come.
NLWA have said they will work to the highest standards of health and safety, work as a “good neighbour”, be committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and play a positive role in skills development of their workplace.
The components of the NLHPP are an Energy Recovery Facility (ERF), located in the north of the site, which will treat up to 700,000 tonnes of residual waste a year and provide electricity that can power over 127,000 homes, with energy diverted to supply heat to local homes and businesses via a heat network.
Located in the south of the site will be the Resource Recovery Facility (RRF), where bulky waste will be separated for recycling, and will also be the location of a recycling centre for the public and businesses from 2021.
Eco Park House, located near the River Lee Navigation, will contain office accommodation and a visitors’ centre where people can find out about recycling, waste, heat etc.
The estimated capital cost of the project is around 650 million pounds. In advance of main construction activities, a series of preparatory works will be required to prepare the site, provide new utilities and create new site access points.
NLWA’s industry open day is to explain their proposals for the preparatory works so that interested companies can soon engage as soon as practicable in the plans.
To register for the event, please do so through the website: northlondonheatandpower.london
Source: Electrical Times