Construction leaders urge PM to keep sites open

A list of critical construction projects are being considered by the government

Leaders from the industry have urged the Prime Minister to keep construction sites open or risk thousands of job losses

The Construction Leadership Council sent a letter yesterday to the Prime Minister urging him to support the construction sector.

They say the constriction industry is a critical part of a functioning UK economy which employs around 3.3 million people 40% of which are self-employed. An imposed “lockdown’ as seen in other countries would trigger many thousands of job losses and closure of many firms.

Leaders have asked the PM to keep construction sites open for as long as responsibly justified during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Council has also urged the Government to consider a cash bridge deferring VAT and PAYE payments to ease the burden on business and keep cash moving as long as possible. And to instruct all public sector construction clients to continue to pay their contractors and supply chain.

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“As an industry, we are particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in workload that might result from an enforced shut down of sites and projects. This is due to the number of self-employed workers (approaching 40% of people working in construction), the vulnerable cash position of over 210,000 SME businesses and the operational requirements of delivering large and complex construction and infrastructure projects,” Andy Mitchell Co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council said in the letter.

“Should the coronavirus cause a ‘shut down’ of the construction sector, we will face unprecedented challenges that we know from previous downturns will cause many companies and individuals to face significant financial repercussions. Many construction companies will not have enough cash available to continue to pay suppliers and wages, even if there is a relatively limited period of economic inactivity.”

“Our requirement is that we are able to keep our construction sites operational during this time, in order to avoid many thousands of job losses, the closure of thousands of businesses and delays and cost increases on crucial programmes and projects.

“If construction activity comes to halt, given the scale of employment provided by our sector, there would be an immediate need for the Government to provide emergency financing to keep the construction industry operational and prevent irreversible damage to the economic security of millions of people. To minimise the requirement for any Government support, it is critical that our supply chain is able to stay in place and keep working as long as is possible – and that will in turn maintain readiness and help to drive recovery efforts.”

Read the letter to the PM here.