What is a Project Bank Account (PBA)?
A Project Bank Account is a ring-fenced, stand-alone bank account operated by a bank or payment service provider to hold funds for Employers/Developers/Funders who are engaging in construction projects. It is designed to simplify the payment process, offering security and accelerating the time to payment to all those participating in the project.
Following Carillion's collapse in January 2018 when it owed millions to sub-contractors, project bank accounts have found favour again with those organising large or complex projects.
Major government initiatives (including Crossrail) are paid for using project bank accounts, though traction in the private sector is a little slower because of the perceived difficulty in setting one up. That's where we come in!
There is no greater complexity for the Employer or the Contractor in the monthly payment process, and they are suitable for projects of any size.
How do project bank accounts work?
Each month, the Contractor, design team and consultants for the construction project submit their invoices to the Project Bank Account operator, who then collates them and sends them on to the Employer/Developer/Funder for approval.
On receipt of the approval, the Project Bank Account provider pays each invoice directly to the invoicing party.
JCT Project Bank Account Documentation 2022 ('PBA 2022')
The JCT publishes project bank account documentation, and we are very happy to use this (with minor amendments) when operating project bank accounts for clients and their construction projects. This suite was updated in 2022 to make it more user-friendly than the previous 2016 version.
Advantages of using a Project Bank Account (PBA)
Project bank accounts offer plenty of advantages, including certainty of payment, protection on insolvency of the Contractor, fewer defaults, a faster time to payment and more predictable cash flow for all concerned.
Can Sub-Contractors participate in a project bank account (PBA) arrangement?
Absolutely - in fact, it is to facilitate prompt payment to sub-contractors and the wider supply chain that the government has mandated their use - the idea being that sub-contractors are paid at the same time as the Contractor, rather than sometimes many months later.
This gives sub-contractors comfort that they will get paid, reduces the credit they must extend the Contractor, and protects the sub-contract supply chain in the event of insolvency.
Are project bank accounts (PBA's) difficult to set up?
Not at all. Setting up a project bank account is very straightforward - it involves us carrying out our compliance checks on the Employer and any Funder, and on the Contractor and any other participants (though for many in the prime residential construction sector, we have already done so).
Thereafter, the documentation gets agreed between the Employer's lawyer, the Contractor's lawyer and the project bank account provider. Additional parties (including sub-contractors and the wider design team) can then 'sign up' to the project bank account process by completing a simple agreement, providing their compliance information and beginning to submit their invoices.
Would project bank accounts (PBA's) work in the private sector?
Yes, then can and do. The protection of the supply chain and the importance of making the monthly payment cycle as straightforward as possible are equally of interest to private sector clients, if not moreso.
Particularly where projects are being funded by trusts, and the trustees want to manage their administrative burden and have another pair of eyes review the monthly payments and send them for approval, all collated and neatly presented, the project bank account can be very welcome.
They can also drive cost savings. Where large sub-contractor packages can be let to the main contractor but funded via the project bank account for prompt payment on short payment deadlines, this frees up cash in the system and reduces the amount of working capital that a sub-contractor must finance, thus enabling the sub-contractor to deliver keener pricing to the Employer.