The construction industry is back on the up!
Like many sectors of the UK economy construction was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before this a period of inactivity, as well as the uncertainty of Brexit, had all contributed to make construction a difficult place to be. Now, with vaccines being touted for the virus, government investment in the industry as well as general economic recovery a hopeful side effect of current efforts, is the industry back on the up?
The green shoots of recovery
There is no doubt that construction has suffered this year. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in April 2020 construction output in the UK fell by 40%. Repair and maintenance works fell by more than 38% and new work decreased by more than 41%. This not only created a hole of more than £5 billion but also represented some of the biggest falls in output since records first began, which has created quite a seismic impact. So, the year did not start well for the construction sector. However, things have started to improve as 2020 has progressed. Construction output showed an increase of 8.2% in May and since then there has been more to be happy about with a 23.5% increase in output in June. While the improvements are small, they are happening, and may represent further green shoots of recovery to come.
Investment into the sector
The £5 billion hole in construction that has been created by the drop in output is something that is incredibly troublesome for the recovery of the sector. As a result, the government has found resources to help make up this shortfall. A £1.3 billion investment in housing and infrastructure projects should go some way towards improving this, as well as furthering the government’s agenda of driving towards a green economy recovery. From this investment should come desperately needed new homes (45,000) as well as tens of thousands of jobs and a reduction in CO2 emissions too.
Health and safety taking priority
While there are clear signs of recovery in construction it’s also essential to continue to prioritise the importance of health and safety as the industry continues to recover. COVID-19 has made worker safety even more of a priority than before with stringent hygiene measures necessary and adherence to key regulations and legislation that are designed to keep people safe, both during and after construction. In particular, the Building Safety Bill and the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures are both a key focus. As we start a new year – and, in many ways, a new era – on site facilities in construction need to be carefully planned to ensure that they are compliant and safe and staff educated so that they have a good understanding of how to minimise the risks, especially where COVID-19 is concerned.
The construction industry is beginning to show signs of recovery and has the support behind it to end the year in a much better place than it began.
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