Extra support urged for construction sector


THE Scottish Building Federation (SBF) has called on the UK and Scottish Governments to offer the construction sector similar support to that given to other sectors impacted by Covid-19.

The call follows research of SBF members, which revealed more than three-quarters have seen all cash flow stop, whilst 95% have furloughed at least 80% of their staff.

The SBF said that whilst the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors have benefited from 100% rates relief, and further grant funding, the construction sector has received ‘no specific support’. The survey also indicated that only 36% are eligible for the £10,000 grant funding offered through the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) and Rural Rate Relief (RRR).

Over 100 SBF members responded to the survey and reinforces the findings of the survey by the Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV Forum) of which SBF is also a member. Key findings include:

  • 95% have furloughed between 80 -100% of their workforce.
  • 76% report that cash flow has stopped entirely
  • 36% have indicated that they are eligible for £10,000 grant funding through SBBS and RRR
  • 98% of sites controlled by SBF members are closed in compliance with guidance issued by the Scottish Government, with the remainder falling under the ‘essential work’ category.
  • 71% want similar support to that offered to retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that have also been told to shut

The SBF added that unlike the retail sector, construction cannot adopt alternative measures of getting their product to market. Additionally, cash will not start to flow into businesses immediately once sites reopen as work has to be carried out before any payment will be received.

Vaughan Hart, MD of SBF said, “Most of our members are Scottish-based SMEs and have heeded the Scottish Government’s advice to stop working to protect both their staff and the wider community. We thank our members for acting in a responsible manner at this time whilst we gain a greater understanding of what we need to do in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those working in our industry.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s second phase of funding which includes a fund of £100m to support businesses in financial distress due to Covid-19. Other heavily-impacted sectors which were initially advised to close have rightly received significant support and other industries have now received bespoke support packages from the Scottish Government. Construction seems to have been forgotten despite being one of the most crucial sectors to the Scottish economy.

“Our sector employs over 170,000 people and is 10% of the Scottish economy but many of our members are struggling. They urgently need specific support from government if they are to survive the current crisis and be in a position to help rebuild the Scottish economy when it ends.”