The FMB has welcomed the government’s commitment to invest in infrastructure, but has also highlighted the importance of the repair, maintenance and improvement sector.
According to the FMB, builders’ workloads, enquiries and level of employment have all contracted to historically low levels, with data published in its latest State of Trade Survey, revealing:
- 93 per cent of builders say that the impact of the coronavirus is constraining their firm’s output.
- 82 per cent expect the cost of building materials to increase over the next three months.
- 43 per cent of SMEs are forecasting lower workloads over the period May to July 2020.
- 71 per cent are reporting lower levels of enquiries.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The crushing impact of the coronavirus on builders’ workloads, enquiries and employment, as set out by the latest State of Trade data, sends a clear message to the Government that it is right to invest in construction. The repair, maintenance and improvement (RM&I) sector contributes 32 per cent towards construction output so it’s important this isn’t overlooked in terms of investment. The pandemic has placed historic constraints on local builders’ ability to work, train, and earn a living. The RM&I market, the bread and butter for most small builders, has been the hardest hit. Almost half a million people left the sector as a result of the 2008-9 financial crash. The FMB is determined to avoid a repeat of this devastating blow to livelihoods and the building industry.
“Investment in infrastructure should mean housing too, making it easier for SME builders to build out small sites and bring empty homes back into use. We need a strategy for supporting the retention and recruitment of apprentices into the construction industry. Without these individuals, an infrastructure revolution will not be possible. In all of this we cannot forget the quality and sustainability of our buildings. A national retrofit strategy will help boost market confidence, and unleash the army of local builders waiting to improve the energy efficiency of our homes.”