The Subcontracting Growth Report found that this equated to an average decrease of eight weeks — from 27 to 19 weeks — of work in the pipeline.
However, the typical value of a new contract was higher, with an average contract value of £175,951 (2018: £130,968).
Some 89% of these firms have called for government action to restore confidence, while 62% want the government to use its spending power to increase competition.
This entailed wanting a greater distribution of large contracts to a more varied pool of subcontractors.
- DFT roundtable: Aggressive business plans, development delays and managing expectations
- London housing market set to get worse unless government 'wakes up'
- Keeping discipline in the current market is key for lenders and developers alike
Helen Wheeler, managing director of construction at BFS (pictured above), said: “It’s been a tough year for the subcontracting sector, with the industry reeling from the collapse of two large high-profile contractors — and further impacted by the recent announcements regarding British Steel.
“It is perhaps no surprise that firms are focusing on safe routes to revenue, but they cannot lose sight of their potential.
“Government has an important role to play in reassuring subcontractors that it’s safe to be ambitious, to invest in growth and to compete for larger contracts.”
Some 25% of firms saw Brexit as the biggest threat in the next 12 months, with 66% of respondents claiming that they hadn’t taken any action to prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU.
Helen added: “The sector has moved from a period of struggle into a period of uncertainty.
“Brexit, the dominance of large contractors and late payment problems are all acting as brakes on the sector.
“If subcontractors are going to reach their full economic potential, then there needs to be a seismic shift in the way contractors work with subcontractors.”