Scottish construction bodies issue plea amid jobs fears

Two construction industry bodies have joined calls for the sector to ensure payments are made to hard-pressed businesses on time and prevent a jobs bloodbath.

Two construction industry bodies have joined calls for the sector to ensure payments are made to hard-pressed businesses on time and prevent a jobs bloodbath. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

As governments on both sides of the Border look to provide support to keep companies going through the coronavirus crisis, the Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum and Construction Scotland stressed that the sector must prove that it is trying to help itself.

Alan Wilson, chair of the CICV Forum and managing director of Select, said: “The construction sector is facing extraordinary difficulties at the moment and these problems will only be exacerbated if anyone delays or refuses to pay their suppliers.

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“There has been some evidence that some businesses have chosen to delay payments or extend credit terms, which is quite unacceptable – and wholly the wrong response to the current situation.

“Put simply, we will only come out of this with a viable construction sector if the cash keeps flowing and businesses which are the lifeblood of the economy can maintain enough liquidity to meet their own commitments.”

The construction industry in Scotland employs more than 175,000 people.

Ken Gillespie, chairman of the Construction Scotland Industry Leadership Group, said: “Cashflow works if everybody in the chain plays their part. It is vital for everyone, especially at a time like this to ‘pay it on’ and enable others to pay their bills as well. The industry has already shown that it can act in concert and now it has to recognise that it is vital that invoices are paid on time. Paying bills means that we will have a viable industry when we begin to come out of the current situation.”

Meanwhile, Barratt Developments has become the latest UK housebuilder to set out plans to restart work on its construction sites. The Leicestershire-based business said it will recommence work from 11 May, initially to implement new safety protocols.

Last week, rivals Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Vistry Group revealed plans to reopen sites they shut down as the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

Barratt said it will open 180 sites, around half of its operations, before opening the rest in a phased process. It said it does not plan to restart work on sites in Scotland at this time and "will keep this position under review".

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