Almost half of professionals working in the UK construction sector believe that corruption is commonplace in the industry, according to a new survey by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
Forty-eight per cent of construction professionals believe corruption is prevalent, with cultural practices and economic conditions suggested as the key reasons behind the high levels. Other reasons for the corruption were given as reduced workloads across the sector as a result of the squeeze on finances, coupled with tighter tender margins.
The CIOB’s survey of 700 construction professionals carried out a similar survey back in 2006, when it looked at whether corruption was seen as being an issue within the construction sector in the UK, and which areas were at particular risk.
CIOB deputy chief executive, Michael Brown, told Workplace Law: “Our findings reveal that little progress has been made since our first piece of research into corruption in 2006. What we have found is that cultural practices and the consequences of the recession have placed a greater strain on companies to sometimes engage in adverse practices as a survival mechanism.”
The latest survey revealed that 35 per cent of respondents reported that they had been offered an illegal bribe at least once, while a further 38 per cent reported that they had witnessed cartel activity in the industry on at least one occasion.
The research also found that almost 50 per cent of respondents did not know that their company had a whistleblowing policy under which they could report bribes or other corrupt behaviour. Just seven per cent said that they had used a whistleblowing policy to report a finding, with different levels of success noted. Almost 10 per cent of survey respondents reported annual losses equivalent to £1 million or more due entirely to fraud and corruption.
Coordinator of the UK Anti-Corruption Forum, Graham Hand, said: “This valuable report shows that despite the introduction of a tough new Bribery Act in 2010, corruption is still common in the construction business in this country.
“That is unacceptable. The law enforcement agencies need to work with the professional and business organisations to educate companies about their responsibilities, and they must act against companies that break the law.”
The CIOB confirmed that measures such as the Bribery Act have not yet had the desired affect in stamping out corruption.
Mr Brown stated: “If the UK is going to live up to its rhetoric of being tough on corruption, both the Government and industry must do more to show proof of progress.”