But government grants could bring construction SMEs back from the brink.
It’s paramount that the Government steps up its support for small construction firms, as we risk seeing a crash similar to that experienced during the financial crisis of 2008-09 when just under half a million workers left the industry.
That is the view of the Federation of Master Builders in response to the construction PMI data published today (Monday 6 April) that showed that construction activity in March fell at the fastest rate since April 2009.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “This data is shocking but sadly not surprising. In just the first month of this outbreak, construction output has fallen at the fastest rate since the financial crisis a decade ago. It reflects what we have been hearing form our members, 60% of whom have had to stop the majority of their work, to protect their workforce and their clients during the Coronavirus outbreak.
“While Government advice remains to keep sites open, for many firms this is unfeasible and unsafe. Most domestic sites are closed, and even our house building members are struggling to keep going as materials are in short supply. This is having a big financial impact on the sector, particularly on small and medium-sized firms who make up the vast majority of the industry.”
Berry concluded: “Cash grants not linked to business rates – almost 90% of small builders don’t operate from an office – are needed now to bring SME construction back from the brink. The FMB stands ready to work with the Government to develop this support stream.
“The loan scheme isn’t working for our members, and delays to bring other cash support online could prove terminal to hardworking building firms up and down the country.”