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Challenging times as construction output falls

Commenting on new figures published by the ONS which show construction output fell by 5.9% in March 2020 – the largest monthly fall on record since monthly records began – Clive Docwra, managing director of leading construction consulting and design agency McBains, said the figures confirm the construction industry is facing its most challenging period since the 2008 financial crisis.

“The industry was more affected by the lockdown than most as the majority of work cannot be undertaken from home, meaning the pandemic has contributed to new work decreasing by 6.2%, including private housing falling by 6.4% and private commercial work plunging by 7.1%.

“What’s more, the worst is yet to come with the impact of coronavirus yet to be fully seen.

“While the Prime Minister has identified the industry as one that can now return, construction work cannot just simply pick up again because many supply chains – not only in the UK but also in the Far East – are still static as a result of the pandemic. 

“The industry is also facing short-term labour shortages because many foreign construction workers who returned home as coronavirus took hold are reluctant to return given the impending Brexit. And there are challenges in firms operating while maintaining social distancing.

“Many small businesses in the sector are facing continuing pressure on their finances from the current suspension of projects, so the coronavirus loan process needs to be streamlined and faster decisions need to be made on loan approvals too.”

13 May 2020

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