Members of the board of trade body Homes for Scotland (HFS) have sent a letter to Nicola Sturgeon requesting a phased return to work that would enable the industry to put the finishing touches to around 6,000 largely completed homes. Many of these properties need work by single tradespeople in order to allow buyers and tenants to move in, pointed out the letter.
HFS said that the industry has already addressed all issues relating to the safe operation of construction sites and sales offices in connection with Covid-19. Its request follows the announcement by the UK government that estate agents and home builders in England can restart the buying and selling process. A similar announcement by the first minister would allow customers in Scotland who have been left in lockdown limbo and who still wish to move to do so, it said.
The letter, which has been signed by 20 industry leaders who sit on the HFS board and represent both national and smaller regional businesses, points to the detailed procedures developed by industry to ensure that activity can be safely recommenced as soon as the green light is given.
The signatories believe this first step would also help mitigate the pandemic’s wide-ranging shockwaves by limiting the damage in terms of housing supply, job losses and business failures.
HFS chief executive Nicola Barclay said: “The Scottish government’s recently announced short-term loan facility for SME home builders is welcomed and will provide a lifeline for many, but there is no escaping the fact that the long-term survival of all these businesses depends on their ability to get back on site and build homes, for both owner-occupation and rent.
“As we see the first sets of figures being released about the financial impact of the lockdown, we can be sure that the full impact is still to be felt. Our industry contributes significantly to Scotland’s social and economic wellbeing and we are ready and willing to reopen safely with additional measures in place to help protect our employees and customers, while also supporting the struggling economy. Our board is now asking for the first minister’s backing to allow us to do so.”