Across the UK, consumer demand for repair and maintenance works saw builders report a busy summer, according to a new survey released today by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Scotland. However, indicative data from Scotland’s builders suggests that workloads and enquiries have not yet recovered. The Construction Forum Recovery Plan, launched this week, should aid recovery for the industry by placing local builders at its heart.

Key findings from the FMB State of Trade Survey, the only survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) firms in the building industry, include:

  • 1 in 2 UK builders (47%) reported increased workloads in the summer months
  • More than three quarters (78%) of UK builders said they expect material costs to increase over the next two months
  • Indicative responses from builders in the devolved nations reported a decrease in workloads in the summer months, and an even greater decrease in enquiries
  • Almost 1 in 5 (17%) SMEs is planning to increase the number of general labourers on site
  • Almost 1 in 5 (16%) SMEs is planning to increase the number of specialist tradespeople on site in the months ahead

Gordon Nelson, Director of FMB Scotland, said: “Scottish builders faced a sluggish recovery in the summer months, with lockdown restrictions only just easing for construction in the second week of June. This has resulted in this survey’s indicative findings pointing to contracting workloads and enquiries. From speaking to members of the FMB in recent weeks, I know activity is starting to pick up, as pent up demand during the lockdown is stretching the capacity of some local building firms. That said, the publication of the Construction Forum’s Recovery Plan couldn’t be more timely, and any plans for supporting the industry must have local builders at their heart. These small firms compete on reputation by delivering high quality work and will be needed to create greener, more energy efficient homes across the country.”

Nelson concluded: “To sustain the trajectory of recovery for builders in Scotland, we need policies that will boost consumer demand for improving our homes. FMB Scotland is just one voice among many promoting the removal of VAT on home improvement projects to help households commission building works so that their homes are fit for purpose in the ‘new normal’. We also need investment in a public sector pipeline of construction work well into 2021, and I support the proposal in the Recovery Plan for the creation of a pipeline database that extends to the public sector. This will help boost confidence, and give employers the stability they need to commit to training and providing work opportunities for our young people at this difficult time.”

Notes to editors

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry representing thousands of firms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Established in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms, the FMB is independent and non-profit making, lobbying for members’ interests at both the national and local level.

The FMB is a source of knowledge, professional advice and support for its members, providing a range of modern and relevant business building services to help them succeed. The FMB is committed to raising quality in the construction industry and offers a free Find a Builder service to consumers. 

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