Senior bosses warn bribes still rife in construction

Aaron Morby 11 years ago
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Bribes and incentives for work are still commonplace in UK construction, according to shocking findings from a survey of construction professionals.

The Chartered Institute of Building surveyed 700 construction professionals and found nearly half said corruption remained commonplace.

The sample included over 300 senior managers or directors. More than one in three (35%) had been offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion.

Nearly (38%) had come across cartel activity at least once and of those, 29% have witnessed it within the last 12 months.

They blamed squeezed tender margins and reduced workloads for pressurising some professions into corrupt practices to survive.

Most said they could not quantify how much fraud was costing their companies. But one in 10 estimated it was costing their firms £1m or more.

Graham Hand, Coordinator of the UK Anti-Corruption Forum, said “This valuable report shows that despite the introduction of a tough new Bribery Act in 2010, corruption is still common in the construction business in this country.

“That is unacceptable. The law enforcement agencies need to work with the professional and business organisations to educate companies about their responsibilities, and they must act against companies that break the law.”

Michael Brown CIOB Deputy Chief Executive said that measures aimed at tackling corruption, such as the Bribery Act, appear to have had a limited effect; with no prosecutions against businesses taking place.

“If the UK is going to live up to its rhetoric of being tough on corruption, both the Government and industry must do more to show proof of progress” said Brown.

Key Statistics

701 respondents.  42% worked in large companies with more than 500 employees.

  • 49% of respondents believe corruption is common within the UK construction industry, just 2% fewer than the first survey published in 2006.
  • Cultural (27%) and economic (23%) are cited as the main reasons for corruption.
  • Cover pricing is seen to not be corrupt by 20% of respondents. Although, predominantly other adverse practices linked to the construction industry are seen to be corrupt (billing for unperformed work, collusion and cartel activity).
  • 67% indicate that the use of gifts and corporate hospitality can be treated as bribery.
  • 43% suggest that all the stages of the ‘construction process’ are susceptible to corruption. 35% specify that the pre-qualification and tendering phase is the most at risk.
  • Over a third said they have encountered cartel activity in the UK construction industry. Of those, 29% said it was in the last 12 months.
  • 35% of respondents have been offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion.
  • 40% do not know if their company has a whistle-blowing policy. 54% indicated that they are aware and only 7% said that they have used it.
  • Respondents acknowledge that the UK construction industry (50%) and the UK Government (55%) are not doing enough to prevent and tackle corruption.

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