The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has today sent a letter to the government calling for urgent help for builders during the coronavirus pandemic, and clarification on what social distancing means for domestic building work.
The letter said that small and medium-sized construction building companies need urgent and immediate additional support from the Government to prevent wide-scale insolvencies and job losses. The FMB says that builders have already reported the following impacts on their firms:
• Three-quarters (76 per cent) say projects have been delayed or cancelled;
• Just under two-thirds (64 per cent) have seen a drop in enquiries;
• Almost all (98 per cent) estimate that one quarter (25 per cent) or fewer of their staff can work from home; and
• Almost one in ten (8 per cent) have already had to make redundancies, representing 58 individuals now without jobs.
So it is calling on the government to:
1. Provide a three month tax holiday on VAT, PAYE and CIS payments. It must also delay the implementation of Reverse Charge VAT by one year;
2. Extend the £25,000 cash grant currently only provided to retail and hospitality to construction firms;
3. Provide the equivalent rate of Statutory Sick Pay to the self-employed who fill 37 per cent of industry jobs;
4. Ensure that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is quick and easy to use, and is launched as soon as possible.
The FMB is also calling on the government to work with the CITB to help employers keep their apprentices; provide clarification to builders and householders whether social distancing means all domestic building work must stop even if all concerned are well; and start to issue construction industry-specific guidance.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The government has overlooked the market in which small builders operate. Builders working in the domestic sector simply cannot work from home and are already feeling the impact of the pandemic as a result. The government must intervene as a matter of urgency if small building companies are to protect their workforces, avoid further job losses, and prevent building companies going to the wall.
“We musn’t allow a repeat of the 2008 recession when one in three SME construction firms left the industry. Building new homes and levelling-up infrastructure will be key to rebuilding our economy after the virus has passed, and the Government will need an army of builders in place to deliver that.
“The FMB is supporting its 7,500 members during this difficult time, through its dedicated helplines, tailored communication and guidance, and insurance services. We are also working closely with the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) as well as other industry bodies to ensure the industry is united through this crisis. I’m calling on the Government to match our efforts and ramp up their support for builders immediately.”