CEA survey highlights Covid-19 impact on production


ONLY 10% of respondents to a CEA (Construction Equipment Association) survey of members said the Covid-19 outbreak hadn’t yet impacted production levels.

72% of firms revealed they were working at reduced levels, while a further 18% had temporarily closed their businesses.

In terms of staffing levels, 14% of respondents said numbers were the same as before the crisis, with 80% reducing numbers and 6% reporting they currently had no staff working at all.

The poll also revealed the percentage of the total workforce that has been furloughed and placed on the HMRC Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was an average of 48% across all respondents.

43% of companies said they had claimed successfully for staff wages under the scheme on the HMRC portal, with just 4% unsuccessful. The remaining 53% of companies said they had not claimed, but additional comments suggesting those ‘planning’ to make a claim could potentially increase the 43% to over 55%.

The CEA said that since the pandemic started, Since the crisis started, members of its team have spoken to more than 150 member firm representing a cross-section of sectors.  Feedback from ‘niche’ market members, such as component manufacturers, indicates that sales are ‘holding up’ with steady exports to the USA and China. However, air and sea freight is hard to source, unreliable and subject to cancellations. The companies are also picking up unfulfilled UK orders from Italy, France, and China.

The CEA added that component manufacturers believe the crisis ‘should’ trigger a UK-wide reshoring strategy and they are expecting a post-pandemic reshoring of the supply chain.

Additionally, the CEA said reports from SMEs indicate that they appear to be ‘better prepared to face business disruption’ and are ‘more flexible and also carrying larger inventory’, although some are struggling from delayed customer payments. Some of the members were reportedly ‘pretty bullish’ about continuing business and orders still coming in.

The CEA is planning to continue circulating its Covid-19 bulletins to its members and also has a dedicated portal on its website. The association is also in regular contact with government and is providing daily briefings for ministers.