Banish Builder cash-in-hand payments for trades

  • announce New Year’s resolution is no more cash-in-hand for builders
  • Portable card machines have revolutionised payment for tradespeople
  • Does away with the industry’s reputation for tax-dodging

Building work pricing website is set to put a cat among the building site pigeons by calling time on cash-in-hand payments for plumbers, electricians and bricklayers alike. 

The bundle of used notes was once standard payment for tradesmen, but the website’s founder Tarquin Purdie believes that abandoning cash payments for 2019 will allow builders to fully embrace the 21st century and rescue the industry’s reputation in one fell swoop. He is now calling for home-owners to reject calls for cash payment, even if that comes with a discount.

“It’s not hard to see why builders have traditionally dealt in cash,” says Managing Director Tarquin Purdie. “They have to buy materials and pay sub-contractors and that was traditionally all done with cash. But now they buy on-account or with credit cards, and their sub-contractors or workers all have bank accounts. Many builders used cash work to stay under the VAT threshold – and I have some sympathy with that for the one-man business – but a good building business should be VAT registered nowadays, withthe accounting wherewithal to deal with that.”

Purdie points to the prevalence of iZettle and other portable card readers among many tradesmen, with modern technology also allowing them to scan receipts and manage their money far better than their forebears. Tradespeople may have been seen as luddites in the past, but they now receive work via smartphone apps, advertise on social media and use WhatsApp to send images to customers. 

“If they are offering you a substantial cash discount, then that is nothing to do with convenience or cashflow,” says Purdie. “ was founded to make pricing clear for customers and builders alike, but we understand some firms may offer a small discount to get the work. However, anyoneoffering as much 10% or 15% cash discount nowadays is asking you to be complicit in tax-avoidance. It is as simple as that. Ask your tradesman for their bank account details, or simply use their card reader.”

Purdie expects the growth of the ‘cashless society’ will see far fewer customers feeling the pressure to pay cash for the likes of plumbing, roofingglazing or gardening work. Although he recognises that some tradesmen may be reluctant to let go of cash payments.

“There will always be a handful of builders who want to have that roll of fifties to pull out in the pub on a Friday night,” he says. “But more and more home-owners are joining up the dots between that cash discount and how the NHS or local services may miss out on the lost tax money.”

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