Builders in Wales reported a decreased workload and enquiries for the period February to April 2020, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Cymru. However, looking ahead, respondents in Wales were more optimistic than elsewhere in the UK, with expected workload set to increase. The Welsh Government must build on this relative optimism by bringing forward a national retrofit strategy to turbocharge the domestic repair, maintenance and improvement sector.
Key findings from the FMB’s State of Trade Survey, the only survey to track key indicators in the small to medium-sized (SME) building sector, are as follows.
- Total workload for those firms based in Wales fell during February to April, compared to the previous quarter; but remained notably higher than all other nations;
- 59% of respondents in Wales expect higher levels of workload in the coming quarter, compared to 27% who anticipate a continued decline. This makes Wales the only home nation to register a positive outlook for workload in the months ahead.
- 9 in 10 (93%) builders say the impact of the coronavirus is constraining their firm’s output;
- 4 in 5 (82%) report that they expect building material costs to increase over the next three months.
Ifan Glyn, Director of FMB Cymru, said: “While workloads for local builders in Wales have significantly declined, they haven’t dipped quite as far as what has been reported in the other home nations. Adapting to physical distancing requirements on site is a challenge, which inevitably impacts productivity. Shortages of key building materials like plaster are also hampering workloads. However, I’m reassured that today’s data indicates that Welsh builders are relatively optimistic about how the next few months will go, with workloads expected to increase. I believe this speaks to the support issued from the Welsh Government during this difficult time, which has cut through and assisted small building firms and hopefully provided them with strong foundations from which to recover. Indeed, construction firms made more applications to Phase 1 of the Economic Resilience Fund than any other sector.”
Glyn concluded: “To build on this relative confidence, the Welsh Government must invest in an energy efficiency upgrade programme that turbocharges activity in the sector. Retrofitting ticks all the boxes: it creates good quality jobs and boosts economic growth whilst also helps tackle fuel poverty and climate change.”
A copy of the report is available here: https://www.fmb.org.uk/media/55779/fmb_state_of_trade_q1_2020-final.pdf
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