Construction industry hopes to finish the year strong despite second lockdown

Between case numbers and hospital admissions rising, and restrictions being brought in across Europe, it seemed like only a matter of time before the UK decided to take the plunge, and enter a second lockdown. Sure enough, the PM announced new restrictions coming into force on Thursday, and businesses expect to be hit hard. But, there is some hope for the construction industry.

The PM stated that unlike a fair portion of the previous national lockdown, the majority of construction activities will be allowed to continue, and are exempt from workplace closures. Industry members hope this will mean that signs of recovery in recent months will be able to continue, with a 17.5% increase in new work seeing construction output rise to £12.5 billion, up by 3% according to the latest available data (August).

Construction representatives say that this growth, if sustained, is a ‘healthy indicator of confidence returning to the sector’, with companies seemingly willing to commission new products in spite of the ever-changing pandemic backdrop. In particular, private housing strength has been doing well, and will likely be boosted by the news that work in the sector won’t be affected by the second lockdown.

Speaking on the construction sector and the prime minister’s lockdown policy announcement, Marco Verdonkschot, Managing Director at IronmongeryDirect, commented that:

“The Prime Minister also announced that the furlough scheme will be extended until December, with employees still receiving 80% of their salary. While the number of construction workers on furlough has been dropping rapidly each month – the quickest proportionate decrease across all sectors – the latest data shows that there were still over 275,000 people on the scheme in July. Therefore, the extension of the funding will be greatly welcomed by many in the industry.” 

“Despite being able to continue operations, the second national lockdown will undoubtedly put extra strain on the construction industry and we may see the rate of recovery slow down further.” 

“However, the sector is proving to be incredibly resilient and has shown this year that it can rebound strongly after challenging setbacks. The government’s announcement at the weekend has given the industry a chance to continue its growth and hopefully it can end the year in a strong position.”