The Scottish Building Federation (SBF) has called on the UK and Scottish Governments to offer support similar to that given to other sectors forced to close due to Covid-19, as a survey of their members revealed more than three-quarters have seen all cash flow stop, whilst 95% have furloughed at least 80% of their staff.
Whilst the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors have been designated “heavily-impacted” sectors who benefit from 100% rates relief, and further grant funding, the construction sector, which employs over 170,000 people and makes up 10% of Scotland’s GVA, has received no specific support.
The SBF’s survey also indicated that only 36% are eligible for the £10,000 grant funding offered through the Small Business Bonus Scheme and Rural Rate Relief.
Craig Bruce, director of Montrose-based construction firm Pert Bruce, praised the speed at which the furlough scheme had been introduced and said the business had put more than 90% of staff on furlough.
However, two members of staff are now trying to cover the work of 20.
He said: “Some industries were given clear routes to grant aid, but for a company our size, there is no ‘tick box’ for the construction industry and this is a situation that urgently needs to be addressed.
“Once firms start to go back to work, there will also be a cashflow gap and additional costs because of the need to maintain social distancing.
“When, for example, a coffee shop re-opens, the cashflow is instant – the customer pays there and then.
“However, for the construction industry, there will be a gap of 60 days before cash starts to come in.
“If something isn’t done, businesses will fold.”
Mr Bruce said that sub-contractors, who are a vital addition to the core of many construction firms were also being hard hit and may not receive support until next month.