Planning for growth: construction SMEs in the UK


By Helen Wheeler, Managing Director – Construction Finance

29 Aug 2015

As one of the largest sectors in the UK, construction contributes around £90 billion (6.7 per cent) in Gross Value Added (GVA), and provides some 2.93m jobs in over 280,000 businesses.

Many of these businesses are sole traders and partnerships whose voices are often lost in favour of the requirements of main contractors and sizable house-building firms.

For this reason, in October 2014, we selected a sample of 200 small construction businesses to take part in a study. The resulting report, Planning for Growth, offers unique insight into work levels, opportunities and challenges facing these smaller firms in 2015 and beyond.

You can download the full report above.


  • Over half of businesses had between five and 20 weeks of work in their pipeline
  • The average amount of pipeline work was 17 weeks
  • SMEs in the West Midlands had the biggest pipeline with a quarter citing 45+ weeks of work planned
  • Almost half of all businesses (49 per cent) said they had more work in Q4 2014 than the same period in 2013
  • Late payment, skills shortages and government red tape are the biggest challenge for subcontractors and small construction firms
  • Over 70 percent had written-off money as bad debt over the past three years

Video: Helen Wheeler talks about the research findings

Managing Director for Construction Finance at Bibby Financial Services talks about the results of the study, current trends in the sector and how invoice finance can help free up cashflow for businesses.

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