UK construction wants sites to remain open

18 March 2020

The UK’s Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and three of the main building and construction bodies in the UK have urged that construction sites remain operational during the COVID-19 crisis.

In a letter to the prime minister Boris Johnson, the Council said keeping construction working would avoid many thousands of job losses and prevent the closure of thousands of businesses and delays and cost increases on important projects.

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Andy Mitchell, Co-Chair of the UK’s Construction Leadership Council.

“If construction activity comes to halt, given the scale of employment provided by our sector, there would be an immediate need for the Government to provide emergency financing to keep the construction industry operational and prevent irreversible damage to the economic security of millions of people.

“To minimise the requirement for any Government support, it is critical that our supply chain is able to stay in place and keep working as long as is possible – and that will in turn maintain readiness and help to drive recovery efforts.”

The letter - written by Andy Mitchell, Co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council and co-signed by Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Suzannah Nichol, Chief Executive of Build UK, and Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders – asks government, as a major client, to ensure that “public sector construction clients continue to promptly pay their contractors, who will in turn ensure that the thousands of small businesses in their supply chain can keep operating.”

The Council also asks for a number of financial measures,, including the deferral of VAT & PAYE payments.

“We will ensure our sites are operational and providing employment for millions so as long as we are able – but your backing to keep our projects open will be vital to enable that. We look forward to working with your Government to discuss the detail of the support that is required.”

The CLC is a joint government-private sector body charged with driving industry improvement. It draws together business leaders from across the sector to identify how to meet the ambition of a 33% reduction in cost, a 50% reduction in project time, a 50% reduction in carbon emissions and a 50% reduction in the trade gap.

The UK’s construction sector represents 8% of GDP and 10% of employment, and is six times larger than the automotive industry.

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