Builders are rising to the challenge of operating in ‘new normal’ circumstances. However, as consumer spending is impacted by the virus, activity may slow. A Government-coordinated national retrofit strategy would help create new jobs across all parts of the country, improve the quality of many homes and help to achieve net zero carbon by 2050.
A survey of a sample of members of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) found that over two-thirds (70%) have now re-started work, however, builders are facing new kinds of barriers to working including building material shortages, clients are uncomfortable with tradespeople working in the home and with the availability of subcontractors or suppliers.
Almost two-thirds (65%) said they could only survive up to three months in the current circumstances.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, says, “Operating in the ‘new normal’ means that builders are facing different challenges in their day to day work. Builders are adapting, however the Government must step in to ensure that activity does not grind to a halt. We must learn lessons from 2008 when 481,000 builders lost their jobs in construction as activity slowed. The Government must target support for the small and medium-sized (SME) businesses to boost regional growth. The most effective and impactful way to do this is through a national retrofit strategy. Upgrading our homes will improve their quality, reduce carbon emissions and promote innovation.”
Berry concludes, “Supporting small businesses means protecting jobs. The Government should also consider ways to support the SME house builder sector. Speeding up planning decisions and streamlining the application process can help to kick start the build out of new sites and keep people in work. We must also consider how to support apprenticeships when there’s a risk training may take a back seat.”