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Tue June 15 2021

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Keep working? Not so easy, builders say

31 Mar 20 Despite ministers repeatedly reasserting that construction work should continue where social distancing protocols can be observed, builders who want to keep working are finding it increasingly difficult to do so.

Social distancing can be hard on site (N.B. Library image, not taken during during current pandemic)
Social distancing can be hard on site (N.B. Library image, not taken during during current pandemic)

According to the National Federation of Builders (NFB), its members say that it is not just social distancing that is reducing productivity – it is also hard to get materials and hostile public opinion has made it extremely difficult for industry to operate.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “Members are reporting that they are unable to get materials and deliveries from builder’s merchants, many of which have closed after struggling to get hold of stock. This a major concern, as it will cause breaches of contract, permanent supply chain loss and ongoing costs, without revenue to pay for them. Remobilising sites is expensive, as is mothballing them, which is why so many businesses want to continue operating but with lower productivity to ensure social distancing.”

He added: “Employers are putting staff first, not just on site but in ensuring they have a job to come back to. We desperately need the government to come out and talk about specific industries like construction, otherwise businesses will be forced to close, perhaps for good.”

Newmarket-based architect Keith Johns, of KJ Architects, said: “All of the constructions sites that I am dealing with as an architect are shut due to all builders’ merchants being shut and the lack of any materials. Also, most subcontractors are refusing to go to site due to peer pressure, so trades such as plumbers, bricklayers and electricians are not attending site.”

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