I am writing to express my full support for Roger Coonie, president of the Association of Technical Lighting and Access Specialists, on the issue of retentions abuse (23 January, page 33).
It is important to note that when retentions abuse occurs and the repayment of retentions is unreasonably withheld, it has a dramatic negative domino effect upon smaller subcontractors, their suppliers and indeed their suppliers. This problem is costing not only the contract flooring industry but also the country dear, and actually has a detrimental effect on clients' and main contractors' profits, which they do not appear to realise.

They also do not appreciate the fact that the retentions percentage is often the difference between profit and loss for many subcontractors. Lack of profit prevents companies investing in staff and training. Consequently, the skilled workforce contracts and this puts pressure on resource availability, thereby increasing costs. This in turn means that less work can be undertaken by skilled trades and that which is carried out costs more and takes longer. All this undermines the business objectives and of course the profits of the main contractors and their clients.

If we can prevent abusers from using retentions for their own cash flow ends, keeping retentions would cease to be of any benefit and the abuse would end. This could be achieved with a simple and effective piece of legislation which would be easy to implement.

As mentioned by Mr Coonie, we believe 5 million potential voters may be affected. This figure represents significant voting power. Retentions make our lives miserable and our staff unhappy, stifling business power, limiting training and reinvestment, restricting pay increases and increasing unemployment. If we in the industry join together, we can rid ourselves of retention abuse once and for all. Let us make retentions abuse a major political issue for the next general election.