Talks under way to use central payment system rejected by Olympic Delivery Authority

Project bank accounts could be used on the UK’s largest-ever construction project, the £16bn Crossrail scheme in London.

It is understood that Crossrail officials have met the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) about the idea, under which the supply chain would receive payment from a single central account rather than through the main contractor.

If the plan gets the go-ahead, it would boost the profile of project bank accounts, which flagged after the Olympic Delivery Authority rejected calls to use them on the main venues for the 2012 Games, despite the process being highlighted as an aim in the 2012 construction commitments.

A Crossrail spokesperson said: “We are aware of our responsibilities to our suppliers and are looking carefully at all options to ensure fair treatment of the supply chain. We have had an initial meeting with the OGC and project bank accounts are an option we will consider.”

The OGC said it would back the use of project bank accounts on the scheme and that their use could save up to 2.5%. It said: “The decision to use them rests with the project owner. However, we are confident that they will be considered for the Crossrail scheme.”

Two high street banks have so far developed project bank accounts. The Bank of Scotland launched one in January and Barclays will officially launch its version on 28 April.

The Specialist Engineering Contractors Group is talking to retailers such as Sainsbury’s about using the accounts.

From spring the NEC and PPC2000 contracts will give clients the option to use project bank accounts. The JCT is set to include them as a bolt-on feature.