Window fabricators have been revealed as the fifth most vulnerable trade to fall victim to customers withholding payment, with other fenestration players such as joiners and locksmiths coming sixth and eighth respectively – and the survey shows the problem is getting worse.

Builders come off worst with an annual loss averaging £1,462, according to the survey carried out by IronmongeryDirect, with window fabricators at risk of losing £1,079, joiners close behind at £1,052 and locksmiths £975.

It found that almost a fifth (19%) of tradespeople experience withheld payments five or more times a year, compared to just 12% when the research was first done in 2021.

Overall, around four in five (79%) say they have encountered customers who refuse to pay. 

On average, each individual loses £1,062 of income each year because of such reasons, but many lose far more. One in seven (14%) miss out on over £2,000 a year.

 “Customers withholding payments from tradespeople is a real problem, and it can harm workers and businesses in a wide variety of ways,” said IronmongeryDirect ecommerce manager Ellis Osborn.

“The most common reason why customers don’t pay is that they have their own financial difficulties, but they should not be confirming work with tradespeople if this is the case, as a lot of time, money and effort is wasted. It’s also against the law not to give workers the money they are owed, so we’ve partnered with a business coach to explain your rights.” 

The survey adds that some tradespeople are more vulnerable than others to the problem. Young tradespeople are more likely to be affected, with Millennial (25-34s) and Gen Z (18-24s) reporting the most instances.

Withheld payments can have serious consequences for trade businesses. Almost a quarter (24%) of tradespeople say they have had to write off some debts as losses, and a similar number (23%) say that this has led to difficulties paying their employees. 

Other repercussions include cash flow problems (18%), delays paying suppliers (12%) and difficulties taking on new jobs (15%). 

 The trades most affected by withheld payments are: 

  1. Builders – £1,462 
  2. Plasterers – £1,319 
  3. Carpenters – £1,304 
  4. Bricklayers – £1,100 
  5. Window Fabricators – £1,079 
  6. Joiners – £1,052 
  7. Building Surveyors – £1,001 
  8. Locksmiths – £975 
  9. Landscapers – £940 
  10. Caretakers / Maintenance – £897 
  11. Electricians – £815 
  12. Scaffolders – £775 
  13. Plumbers – £725 
  14. Painter Decorators – £699 
  15. Roofers – £600 

The company has collated expert advice on unpaid invoices at :   

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