The Federation of Master Builders

Grants needed for small building companies to survive, warns FMB

Published date: 17 April 2020

Almost two thirds (65%) of small building companies won’t last more than two months without cash grants from the Government, according to new data from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) released today.

Faced with relentless overheads, supply chain blockages, site closures, and difficulty accessing Government financial support schemes, stranded small builders are facing a grim future without urgent help. The FMB survey asked 332 small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms about the impact of the coronavirus. The results revealed:

Trading

  • 68% of builders have stopped at least 91% of their operations and new inquiries have dropped by 64%.
  • Of the work that has stopped, 80% say this is due to supply chain issues restricting the availability of products and materials; 65% experienced problems maintaining social distancing rules on often small, domestic sites.

Eligibility for Government schemes

  • Just 4% of builders who have applied for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) have been successful. 86% are still waiting to hear from their bank, with 44% waiting more than 10 days.
  • 95% of builders have not received Business Rates Relief from their local authority, with most being ineligible due to not owning business premises.
  • 69% of directors of small limited companies said 80% of their monthly PAYE salary (available through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) would not provide enough support to them during lockdown, as most of their income comes from dividends which isn’t covered by the scheme.

Ability to continue their business

  • 84% of builders have ongoing costs that aren’t covered by Government schemes, the most common being insurance, rent, bills and vehicle and plant hire.
  • 65% of builders say their business can survive for two months or less in the current circumstances, with almost a quarter (23%) saying that they will struggle to even get through the four weeks.
  • 60% of builders believe the Government has not done enough to support them.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “If the Government doesn’t act by extending grant support to more small businesses, the coronavirus will wipe out thousands of small building companies, significantly reducing the capacity of the construction industry to build the homes and infrastructure we need. Builders are suffering because work has stopped, through no fault of their own, but bills are still landing on their doormats. Builders urgently need more money in the bank to get through lockdown.”

Berry continued: “Too few builders have been able to get a Government-backed loan, pay themselves a decent wage as small business owners, or access financial aid from the Government because they don’t own business premises. The Government must step up its support for builders immediately with a cash grant system not linked to the business rates system.”

Berry concluded:Builders in Scotland and Wales have access to cash grants, but those in England are being left out. The Government should ensure that small businesses across the UK have access to similar support, to help them to get through these difficult times, and get building again, when this is over”

ENDS

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