The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has urged the prime minister to ensure that all construction sites across the UK are able to remain open as long as possible as the Covid-19 crisis escalates.
The CLC and other leading trade bodies CECA, Build UK and the Federation of Master Builders, have jointly written to the prime minister to outline the difficulties faced by the construction and infrastructure sector, and how the industry can help to ensure the UK economy is resilient in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
In particular, the CLC has urged that the government:
- Ensures all construction sites across the UK are able to remain open, as long as they are able to do so responsibly.
- Instructs all public sector construction clients to continue to pay their contractors and supply chain.
- Consider implementing financial measures, such as the deferral of VAT & PAYE payments, that will reduce the burden on business and keep cash moving as long as possible.
Andy Mitchell, co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said in the letter: “We welcome the guidance you issued yesterday which encourages people to practice social distancing, alongside allowing essential industry to continue to operate. During this challenging time, it is vital that our construction sites are able to remain open.
“Should the coronavirus cause a ‘shut down’ of the construction sector, we will face unprecedented challenges that we know from previous downturns will cause many companies and individuals to face significant financial repercussions.
“Many construction companies will not have enough cash available to continue to pay suppliers and wages, even if there is a relatively limited period of economic inactivity.
“Our requirement is that we are able to keep our construction sites operational during this time, in order to avoid many thousands of job losses, the closure of thousands of businesses and delays and cost increases on crucial programmes and projects.
“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.
“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.”