Construction Industry ‘Upbeat’ Despite Record Activity Slump

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E.

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E.

Construction Industry ‘Upbeat’ Despite Record Activity Slump

Construction Industry ‘Upbeat’ Despite Record Activity Slump

The latest Construction Purchasing Managers Index may have revealed steep falls in activity across the sector, but it seems that many industry professionals are still confident and remaining upbeat regardless.

Some 86 per cent of survey respondents in the latest IHS Markit’s Construction PMI reported a drop in business activity since March, unsurprising given the shutdowns and site closures that were seen across the supply chain as a result of coronavirus.

But chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Building Caroline Gamble observed that construction professionals are clearly still confident about their ability to both get and keep jobs, advancing careers and improving their financial situations, proof that “despite the output stagnation, the industry remains hopeful for the future”.

She did, however, issue a call to the government to ensure it takes steps to protect the sector and ensure it remains strong at the moment, providing support for professionals to deliver projects that have already started and developing a pipeline for future work.

“While we remain strongly supportive of getting the construction industry back to work, we must continue to follow government guidelines and find pragmatic ways to ensure the workforce and the general public are kept safe.

“We must also continue to work collaboratively within the industry, taking an approach to our partners and the supply chain which is focussed on communicating effectively and cooperating to pragmatically resolve any contractual issues that may come up between us,” Ms Gumble went on to say.

Towards the end of April, numerous industry bodies – including the CIOB – called on Scottish government to bring in a gradual reopening of non-essential building sites as soon as possible, as long as they work within the parameters of health and safety obligations.

In the letter, they pointed out that urgent action is now necessary in order to avoid a detrimental impact on the sector and the economy over the long term, with outcomes that include cost increases, reduced productivity and long-term skills shortages.

It was stressed that one of the biggest impacts of closing construction sites has been the furloughing of staff to such an extent that paralysis is now setting into the industry.

Recovery could be prolonged by delays in project planning and procurement, which will see projects inevitably cancelled. If supply chains find themselves unable to submit quotes and prices, all sorts of projects will be jeopardised, even those in the pre-construction phase.

The letter went on to say that the sector is actually well positioned to police itself through Health and Safety Executive enforcement, and relevant regulations. It was also pointed out that construction firms make vital contributions to the success of Scotland’s built environment and that the construction and infrastructure sectors are worth more than £20 billion for the country’s economy.

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