The Office of Fair Trading has to apply the law, has to hurt this industry

The £130m fine will have one hell of a knock-on effect. Firms won’t pay the fines because the liquidation route beckons. Then the subbies and suppliers will suffer. Prices will tighten, payment periods will lengthen. Claims will expand. Teamwork will contract. But the OFT has to apply The Law. All truth.

Another truth: bid-rigging is conspiracy and fraud. Always has been. None was found by the OFT. Another truth: cover pricing is not bid-rigging. No theft, no fraud, no prison. Another truth: thousands of construction firms get cover prices. Why? Because the firm did not want to win this particular contract, but wanted to tender. Why? Because all hell lets loose when an invitation to tender is sent back saying “no thanks”

Now what? Today you must not get a cover price. But you will still bid for a job you can’t cope with just now. So all that will happen now is that the estimator will bid high all by himself. Same meat, different gravy.