Survey shows nearly 80% of consultants struggle to get paid abroad, while 68% have cut staff

Almost four-fifths of consultant engineers in the UK are having problems getting paid abroad, according to a new study.

In its annual state of business survey, the Association for Consulting and Engineering (ACE) said 79% of businesses had reported issues with late payment overseas.

Other issues on which the association surveyed 150 of its member firms included the impact of the recession on business strategy and future areas of growth.

Nelson Ogunshakin
Ogunshakin: "Trading throughout 2009 and the first part of 2010 is still likely to remain weak"

Eighty-four percent of businesses said they had seen a decrease in private sector activity over the past year and 68% had cut staff levels in the same period.

Sixty percent of firms said the recession had had a negative impact on their business while 31% said they did not expect the UK economy to return to pre-recession growth until 2011.

The report said it expected increased competition and further pressure on fees in coming months and the construction market faced a “slow march back to full health”.

However, there were some more positive signals. More than half (58%) of respondents expect to increase investment in business development and 62% anticipate an increase in earnings from the UK energy sector over the next three years.

Nelson Ogunshakin, ACE chief executive, said: “With economic conditions easing somewhat it seems that the worst could be behind us. However, less bad does not necessarily mean good.

“Trading throughout 2009 and the first part of 2010 is still likely to remain weak, and difficult market conditions are still affecting business behaviour. Crucial industry drivers such as the investment cycle and public spending are still uncertain.”