WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE INDUSTRY?
At Keyline Civils Specialist we work closely with businesses from a wide range of sectors from infrastructure and utilities to housing and commercial and retail. Therefore we have seen and felt the impact that the Coronavirus pandemic has had on the industry.
While there are signs of stabilisation, it is likely that it will be several years before volumes return to previous levels. Therefore, businesses across the industry will have to take immediate action to secure their long-term health and security. Despite the steps Keyline Civils Specialist took in the early stages to reduce costs and limit spending, we have had to take further action to protect the business and ensure we can continue supporting our customers. This has meant taking the difficult decision to resize our business by closing some smaller branches. Unfortunately, a large number of organisations across the industry from merchants and contractors to manufacturers are taking similar steps to enable them to weather the storm.
As the plan highlights, the construction industry is an ecosystem of businesses and organisations that depend on each other. Therefore, for the CLC plan to succeed it will require hard work and commitment from every part of the industry as well as the Government. When work restarts on sites this means more business for merchants and a greater demand for manufacturers’ products. Members of the supply chain must then do what they can to ensure that materials are available when and where they are needed to minimise delays. It will also require a commitment from the Government as policies such as the Help to Buy scheme will get the housing market moving again and give developers the confidence to restart all sites.
Early indications are encouraging. Already the Government has announced that it will delay the changes to the VAT system until March 2021, although the CLC had recommended it be postponed until October 2021. Also, shortly after the CLC plan was published Arcadis released its annual report on contractual disputes, which revealed that the average cost of UK construction disputes is already significantly below the global average and are resolved faster than anywhere else in the world, in just 9.8 months.
For the future of the industry as a whole, the Roadmap to Recovery plan represents a positive step and its intention to not only restart work on site and in branches but also improve the way we work has promise. It is now almost four years since Mark Farmer published his report into the industry entitled ‘Modernise or Die’ in which he highlighted the urgent need to address the efficiency, productivity and skills issues in construction. Taking this opportunity to re-evaluate practices and processes across the industry may be what construction needs to take the next step in improving productivity, quality and costs.
The two-year timeframe of the plan is ambitious especially if we are to change long standing ways of working but it is an excellent objective for us all to work towards. The most important immediate consideration is getting people back to work quickly and safely to restart an industry that is vital to the health of the UK economy.
To find out more about the CLC Roadmap to Recovery Plan visit www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk