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Wed July 28 2021

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Contractors expect to lay off 11% of their workforce

17 Jun 20 A survey conducted by Build UK for the Construction Leadership Council at the start of June 2020 has revealed that contractors expect to lay off an average of 11.4% of their employees by September.

Across the industry, 43% of survey respondents expect to make redundancies, with some laying off as much as 20% of their workforce.

In addition, 6.7% of apprentices are likely to lose their jobs by September, and 60% of respondents are looking to take on fewer apprentices at the next intake.

The ‘People Survey’ was carried to help inform the Construction Leadership Council’s planning for industry recovery.

The number of respondents to the survey was not disclosed, but 25% of survey respondents were material suppliers, 20% were consultants, 32% were specialist contractors and 15% were main contractors.  Specialist contractors and main contractors both averaged 11.4% for expected redundancies.

To understand the impact of coronavirus on jobs, the People Survey asked about employment levels three months ago (March) and anticipated employment levels in three months’ time (September). Respondents currently directly employ 89% of their workers, with the remaining 11% being self-employed or agency workers.

• On average, 32% of direct employees are currently furloughed, with all sectors of the industry having accessed the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme at some point.

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• There is expected to be a 7.7% reduction in the number of directly employed workers across the industry by September.

• In the longer term, 43% of respondents anticipate making redundancies, with up to 20% of their workforce being affected.

• There is expected to be a 26.7% reduction in the number of self-employed and agency workers across the industry by September.

• Home builders, specialist contractors and main contractors are the most significant users of self-employed and agency workers. Whilst home builders and specialist contractors anticipate reducing their numbers by just 4% and 11% respectively, contractors are looking to reduce self-employed and agency workers by 42%. Other sectors most likely to reduce their numbers are material suppliers by 54.5% and consultants by 45.6%. Combining these figures shows an anticipated reduction in the construction workforce of 9.9% by September, the survey report said.

Companies in the construction sector to have announced redundancy plans in the UK already include: Keltbray, reducing headcount by 300 (15% of total headcount); Wates 300 (8%); Travis Perkins 2,500 (9%); Marshalls 400 (15%); and JCB is laying off c.1,000 people at UK factories, on top of 500 agency staff also let go (20%).

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