One in five plumbers struggles to pay for their supplies after late payments from customers impacts their cashflow, according to a survey by ECIC

The Healthcheck survey, carried out annually by construction industry insurer ECIC during the first quarter of 2016, found that late payments are having a potentially serious impact on plumbers.

The results shows that late payment is an issue for 62% of plumbers, compared to a construction industry average of 41%, while close to a fifth said the problem was so bad that they struggled themselves to pay for supplies. Almost a quarter said they have to fund a specific resource just to chase outstanding payments.

However, reflecting the high demands on skilled contractors, firms are taking control of the issue where they can, with half of the plumbers surveyed saying they would turn work away from known late payers.

John Flaherty, business development executive for ECIC, said: "It's shocking that despite government promises of support, late payment is still such an issue for the nation's hard-working plumbers. This can have a serious knock-on effect for their business, delaying projects and damaging customer relationships.

"The good news is that where they can, plumbers are being selective about who they will work with, based on the customer's previous payment performance. By taking a firm stand in this way, it sends a clear message that late payment won’t be tolerated."

The findings of the survey follow the introduction of the Enterprise Act in May bringing changes to the speed of commercial insurance claims payments.

Mr Flaherty added: "As part of the Enterprise Act introduced in May, unnecessary delays in claims payments should be a thing of the past, giving plumbers some much needed certainty when they need to make a claim. It always helps to work with an insurer or broker who knows your business sector inside out and has a proven track record for claims. Biggest is not always best and we would urge contractors and tradespeople to seek evidence of claims service before placing cover."