construction work,
© John Corry

Only emergency construction work should be allowed to continue order to protect the health and of construction workers, argues the Federation of Master Builders (FMB)

FMB has said only emergency and critical construction work should be allowed to continue and help must be extended to SME building firms.

New research conducted by the FMB revealed:

  • More than half (60%) of builders have already ceased between 76% and 100% of their work;
  • Of those, 80% are in the domestic repair, renovation and maintenance sector.
  • Almost two-thirds (63%) of builders believe that the government is not doing enough to support them.
  • 80% of builders would apply for the £25,000 grant, currently only available to retail, leisure and hospitality firms if it were made available to them;
  • Of those 303 firms who said that they would apply, they employ a total of just under 2,000 people (1,956) and most commonly said that the grant would help them survive another two to three months.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Most FMB members have already taken the lead and ceased the majority of their work. It is almost impossible to follow Public Health England’s social distancing advice on many sites, and it would therefore be safer to close them.

Berry added: “However, the government must ensure that these firms don’t face a cliff-edge while doing the right thing and should ensure that grants of £25,000 are made available and that ample support is extended to the self-employed who represent 37% of construction jobs.”

Berry concluded: “No one should have to choose between feeding their family and protecting their health and yet that is the position many builders currently find themselves in. There is a clear appetite for greater Government support among builders, as demonstrated by the fact that 80% would apply if grants were available.”

Stay at home and shut construction sites

Following the chancellor’s announcement of a package for self-employed workers, transport union TSSA is calling on anybody not considered a Key Worker to stay at home and not travel on public transport.

The union is also calling for construction sites to be shut at this critical time.

Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary, said: “Following the chancellor’s announcement last night, I urge all workers not classified as Key Workers to stay at home. Please don’t travel on public transport at this time.

“And to transport workers – who are classed as key workers – we say that only those essential for the safe running of the networks should be physically turning up to work. Anyone who can work from home should be doing so to protect themselves and the wider population.

“We also call for construction sites to be shut down during this critical period. The government should have done this already as thousands of construction workers are travelling by public transport when the priority should be reducing contact to beat the coronavirus.

“The situation is too serious for half measures – all non-key workers need to stay at home. We need to protect our NHS and save lives.”

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

Last night (26 March), the chancellor announced that the UK’s self-employed construction workers will get a grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years up to £2,500.

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will be open to those with a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

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