The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have a disastrous impact on the construction industry.
There have been a number of measures announced to support UK businesses such as the £330 billion economy boosting package announced by the Chancellor and delivery drivers being considered key workers.
This will all help, however, with some industries understandably receiving special consideration from the Government, it’s now time for the construction industry, the building block of our economy, to receive a much needed focus.
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB commented: “Whilst some of the Chancellors measures will provide support for businesses, things have moved on and the construction industry – in particular SMEs – need additional support to see us through this dreadful period.
Our economy relies on construction and as we saw with the financial crash of 2008, if our industry stops trading, most will not come back and productivity will grind to an economically disastrous halt.”
The government has already started a working group to work more closely with construction during this crisis and we are grateful for the urgency. However, where some businesses are more able to cope with cashflow issues, SMEs, particularly medium sized businesses, often operate as large companies in their region and are most at risk.
This is being highlighted by many medium sized businesses being too large for the small business, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) but too small for the investment grade loans, though the Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). The solution must be a medium sized business loan.
Most construction businesses are desperate to continue working and are being innovative with their business plans to do so. The Government needs to support them to ensure they can keep working, while remaining safe.
The NFB has written to various government officials including the Chancellor, Business Secretary and Housing Secretary and has proposed a number of measures to help mitigate disaster.
Beresford, continued: “Revenues will soon begin to dry up and within the month, businesses will have to close. We cannot let that happen and we must ensure that there are health measures to ensure construction work can carry on, businesses get an injection of cash and there are no unnecessary penalties. Our letter to the Chancellor details recommendations to achieve this and we hope he will act on them, as soon as possible.”