Construction industry bodies representing over 13,000 skilled and training workers in Scotland imploring its government to re-open non-essential building sites as soon as possible to avoid long-term damage to the industry.
They say stasis is already gripping the sector because of the Covid-19 shutdown, and that long-term skills shortages, cost increases and reduced productivity will result without a pragmatic approach to getting projects going again, safely and gradually.
"One of the biggest impacts of closed construction sites is that we are finding contractors and supply chains are now engaging in a comprehensive furlough of staff to the point that a state of paralysis is setting into the construction industry," said a letter jointly penned by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and the Royal Incorporation of Architects Scotland (RIAS).
"Many projects are in jeopardy, even at pre-construction phase, because the supply chain cannot submit quotes and prices. Any delay in project planning and procurement will cause projects to be cancelled, and it could prolong the recovery," they said in their letter to Scotland’s minister for local government, housing and planning, Kevin Stewart.
Scotland’s construction and infrastructure sectors are worth over £20bn to the Scottish economy, they pointed out.
They said the industry can police itself through relevant regulations and extra enforcement by the Health and Safety Executive.
In order to boost the sector further, the signatories called on the Scottish Government to:
- Establish a VAT rebate for home repair and energy efficiency measures;
- Encourage preconstruction design and specification work, leading to tenders;
- Commission surveys of vacant public buildings such as schools, colleges, museums and libraries;
- Initiate a maintenance programme for these buildings to keep small firms in business;
- Boost longer-term business-interruption loan schemes.
Similar letters will also be going out to ministers in devolved governments in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Image: Stasis is already gripping the sector, say industry bodies in Scotland (Jason Blackeye/Unsplash)