For years, tradespeople have been tarnished with the reputation for prioritising football over work. Many members of the public see them as being a bit too eager to down tools and head to the nearest big screen.

However, recent research among tradespeople busts this myth.

The UK’s leading online trade supplier, IronmongeryDirect, has run a series of polls to find out more about tradespeople’s attitude to work during the World Cup. Many participants, including builders, carpenters and joiners, are currently planning when and where they will be watching their team – but outside of work.

According to a poll of more than 1,000 IronmongeryDirect customers, over 75% of tradespeople claimed they would never consider skipping work to watch their team.

However, if they were to ‘pull a sickie’ to watch an important match, tradespeople gave some of their best excuses, with the more elaborate ones including:

  • “I’ve been called up as a late replacement by Gareth Southgate”
  • “My boyfriend’s in labour.”
  • “I’ve got soap in my eyes and can’t find a towel.”
  • “I’ve been delayed at the airport on holiday…in Scarborough.”
  • “My Auntie’s Gerbil is about to give birth and I’m the nominated birthing partner.”

Some of the more convincing examples included:

  • “I have a dentist appointment.”
  • “The children are poorly.”
  • “I’ve got the flu.”

Employers are recognising that the World Cup is important to many of their staff. Many responded to the polls saying they would be more than happy to be flexible by offering them time off. One respondent stated: “As the boss, I always give my team the time off. It also saves them giving me the daft excuses!”.

The research also revealed ongoing optimism among tradespeople, with more than half believing England will make it to the Quarter Finals. Also, half of those polled (49%) said they would give up alcohol for good to see England win the tournament.

Andy Wood, football enthusiast and Marketing Director of IronmongeryDirect, said “The World Cup is an exciting time for many of us – tradespeople are no exception. We wanted to find out how our customers were preparing for the year’s biggest sporting event. The research was carried out in the name of fun, but it was great to see results challenging the outdated stereotype of contractors and other trades professionals neglecting their jobs for football! Tradespeople in Britain work hard, and we hope they enjoy watching World Cup 2018.”

This year a range of regulatory updates and government-led initiatives are expected to have an impact on the construction industry, potentially affecting thousands of tradespeople across the UK.

2018 could be instrumental in terms of making – or preparing to make – significant changes for trade professionals and the services they deliver. To help, IronmongeryDirect has produced an overview bringing together these key changes.

Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety

Following the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, the government launched an independent review into building regulations and fire safety. Led by Dame Judith Hackitt the review is examining the regulatory system around the design, construction and ongoing management of buildings in relation to fire safety and related compliance, as well as enforcement issues and international regulation and experience in this area.

An interim report was published in December 2017 which stated that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings has been deemed “not fit for purpose”.

Speaking about the report, Dame Judith said: “There is plenty of good practice, but it is not difficult to see how those who are inclined to take shortcuts can do so. Change control and quality assurance are poor throughout the process. What is initially designed is not what is being built, and quality assurance of materials and people is seriously lacking.”

Tradespeople are advised to familiarise themselves with the findings when the full report is published in spring 2018, since it could bring about changes to working practices.

Additional Funding for New Homes

The autumn budget provided positive news for the construction sector which should start to filter though during 2018.

£15.3 billion of additional funds have been made available to facilitate the construction of 300,000 new homes a year over the next five years. In addition, the skills shortage in the construction sector has been addressed with the Chancellor setting aside £204 million to train younger trade professionals.

The government will also be introducing the new technical vocational qualifications – or ‘T Levels’ – and increasing the hours of training for technical students aged 16-19 by more than 50%.

Wiring Regs

Mainly affecting electrical professionals, but still very important for construction projects are the changes to the Wiring Regulations, due to be announced in July 2018.

Co-published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the British Standards Institution (BSI), the 18th Edition updates are likely to be wide-ranging and will affect the whole electro-technical industry. From 1st January 2019, it will be a requirement that all electrical installations designed after this date comply to the updated regulations.

It is important for tradespeople working in this field to at least be aware of these changes.

Consultation on Cash Retention

With a shift in focus to small business management, the current consultation launched by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is addressing the practice of cash retention under construction contracts.

According to a recent survey, one in three businesses (32%) said that between 3 and 10% of their turnover was being held in retentions.

The results of the consultation will not be released until later in 2018 but it is hoped that they will lead to changes that will result in prompt and fair payment for firms working in the construction sector, particularly small and start-up businesses.

Fix Radio, the new DAB station aimed at tradespeople, will be giving out 20,000 bacon butties to builders after it launches on Wednesday 26th April. (That’s over a tonne of bacon!)

Three branded bacon butty vans will visit 1,400 building sites over 40 days serving free hot food and promoting the new station.

Fix Radio will be launched by a mystery celebrity connected to the building trade who will press the button to play the first song.

The breakfast show will be presented by Trev and Ben – Trevor Smith and Ben Harmer – who join from community radio in Croydon. Their show will feature a daily wind-up call from former Capital Radio star Steve Penk.

Veteran presenter Paul Baker will present the afternoon show and is also Fix Radio’s Programme Director.

There will also be a daily sport and music show at lunchtimes hosted by TV and radio sports presenter Ian Payne from ITV and LBC.

Fix Radio is already working with some high-profile trade brands and launches with several months’ worth of advance advertising and sponsorship.

In addition to its DAB broadcasting, Fix Radio will be targeting larger building sites by playing in their canteens giving a guaranteed listenership of 4,000 tradespeople from the start. More canteens will be added.

Louis Timpany, chief executive, says: “The launch of Fix Radio is the culmination of 18 months of fund-raising, research and development. We’re very excited to see it all come together at last.”

Fix Radio will provide music and cheeky banter aimed at bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, plasterers, roofers, painters and decorators whether they work on site or in people’s homes.

Louis, 24, came up with the idea after working on a building site to earn extra cash after university. He teamed up with radio consultant Paul Chantler to develop the concept, attract investors and build the station. A number of prominent radio executives have invested in the station.

Imaging for Fix Radio has been produced by Wise Buddah Jingles. London and building trade news will be provided by Radio News Hub and The Met Office will supply specially targeted and detailed weather forecasts which are vital for tradespeople working outdoors.