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Can Construction get our economy out of the dip created by Covid-19?

It’s true, Covid-19 has impacted every individual in the UK but now the infection and death rates seem to be going down, we need to ask ourselves ‘how can we come back from this?’. The Economy has shrunk by a record 20.4% in the last quarter, making us all consider what this could mean for the UK’s Economy in the coming years, many never thought they’d wish for Brexit to be the main topic of conversation, yet here we are!

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech reiterated that the foundation of any economic recovery is infrastructure and, more importantly, housing. Covid-19 has not changed the desperate need for more housing stock in the UK and many logistics companies are now needing more commercial storage and packing facilities on home soil, rather than relying on European warehouses with overnight shipping.

The Prime Minister was quoted as saying, ‘we need to ‘build, build, build’ but how is that going to be put into practice? Thankfully due to the furlough scheme launched in April, many of the UK housebuilders and development companies managed to stay afloat regardless of most sites being temporarily shut down. Now as the country starts to head back to work, those at the head of the crowd are the trades and construction workers. As construction developments restart and reopen, it has never been more important to have all your ducks in a row to make sure construction targets can be met and delays kept to a minimum. Housing needs to be built quickly and effectively to minimise the dip in the Economy. This only emphasises the importance of project planning for housebuilders and ensuring that your risk is managed effectively. This means Developments need to make sure their future customers are protected by only using A-rated warranty providers through companies such as Build-Zone. Even in times of prosperity, unrated insurers have been known to remove themselves from the market, the most recent being Alpha in 2018.

So where do we start? For many developments these are the important issues: -

- Planning – ‘this government will shortly bring forward the most radical reforms of our planning system since the end of the second world war’ – Boris Johnson

- Lockdown has delayed planning. One of the Government’s first steps is to invest in building by speeding up the planning process. This will include developers not needing planning permission to change the use of a building, meaning vacant or redundant buildings can be converted into new homes quicker. Land – the prime minister has promised to free up more land including brownfield sites.

- Supply chains - Some developments have been able to find British suppliers for their construction materials rather than relying on European counterparts offering further investment in our primary industries.

More people are likely to be working from home. More people will be looking for new houses. Those who previously couldn’t afford to be able to save more to buy, have more funds available now they’ve reduced commuting costs. The way we operate and build our sites are going to be different for the immediate future with added hygiene and health and safety precautions taken. To summarise, it is a changing world and while Covid-19 has been an unprecedented event, it proves one thing has not changed. Construction is the foundation of our Economy’s future.

‘We will build better and build greener but we will also build faster’ -Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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