NICOLA Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland’s construction industry is to move onto the next step of its restart plan, in a move that has been broadly welcomed by the sector.
The first minister said, “One area where we can make some further progress is in the construction industry. I can confirm today (June 11) that the sector will be able to move to the next step of its restart plan, which is something that was always envisioned as part of phase 1 of our route map.
“Earlier steps have allowed for health and safety planning followed by preparatory work at construction sites and moving to the next step of the industry plan will now allow workers to return to construction sites gradually, while using measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene to ensure that they can do so safely.
“I’m very grateful to the sector and to trade unions for the very responsible approach that they have taken during an incredibly difficult time. It’s important to be very clear, though, that we still have a long way to go before construction will be working at full capacity – but there’s no doubt this is a significant step in allowing an important industry to return safely to work.”
CICV forum chair Alan Wilson, who is also managing director of SELECT, commented, “The announcement about a return to work and the inclusion of domestic work in the lockdown easing will be a huge relief to the lots of businesses across the whole sector which provide essential services to homeowners all over Scotland.
“However, as always in construction, safety is the overriding consideration and firms must prepare to carry out work in a wholly changed working environment, which will produce its own new challenges.”
Vaughan Hart, MD of Scottish Building Federation (SBF) said, “We are delighted the first minister has approved plans to allow the construction sector to begin a soft start on site from next week. Both individual members and the industry as whole have been working tirelessly with unions, clients and professional bodies to ensure we only reopen sites when we can make it safe to do so. I believe that work has paid off and a number of sites will now be ready to begin work again on Monday. I would like to thank our members for the professional way they are working during this difficult time, and we look forward to the construction sector being at the forefront of the economic recovery whilst ensuring we protect our valuable teams on site.”
Gordon Nelson, Scotland director at the Federation of Master Builders said, “Health and safety, for employees and customers alike, will be critical as we work to bring the construction industry back to some semblance of normality. While this is good news, everyone concerned must recognise the importance of continuing to follow the guidance and ensuring that the only job that will be undertaken will be a safe job.”
Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF) commented, “The response from the construction industry across Scotland during this crisis has been impressive, coming together to take positive action for mutual benefit. While the announcement is welcome, we are not out of the woods yet and every company and employee involved in getting back to work needs to abide by the new restrictions under which we all must now operate.”
Nicola Sturgeon also announced an extension of the successful help to buy scheme, which will continue for a further year until 2022. On this, as well as the announcement of the entering of phase 2, Nicola Barclay, chief executive of industry body, Homes for Scotland, said, “To get confirmation that home builders can now commence the re-opening of their sites is great news that hasn’t come a moment too soon given the robust safety plans that the industry has developed and put in place. Having the extension of the Help to Buy scheme announced at the same time is also a much required confidence booster for the housing market that will help ensure even more younger Scots can benefit from this hugely successful initiative and realise their aspirations of owning their own home.
“The first minister paid tribute to the very responsible approach that has been adopted by the industry during the lockdown, and this is a sentiment I wish to echo loudly. Home builders have stepped up to the plate supporting their customers, employees and local communities, and this will continue as we look forward to working closely with government and other stakeholders to rebuild Scotland’s economy.”
Kevin Reid, chief executive of the Cruden Group said, “We welcome the news that we are entering into phase two of the Construction Re-start plan. The health, safety and wellbeing of the public and everyone who works on our sites and in our offices remains our top priority. We have developed and tested new site protocols and we are working closely with our colleagues, sub-contractors and suppliers to rigorously enforce and strictly monitor the new procedures.”