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Construction: Industry update COVID-19

Much has been said and written about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on business owners and the wider economy, and at Close Brothers Asset Finance we’ve continued to commission research throughout the lockdown and during the lifting of restrictions.

In our most recent research – conducted in July - we asked business owners, including those in the Construction industry, a number of questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact, the results of which are provided, below.

How has your business’s cash flow been affected by COVID-19?

As expected, most firms  have seen their cash flow negatively impacted, with the most commonly selected figure being a 25% - 49% reduction and significantly above the national sentiment.

What is the current status of your business, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

The results of this question varied widely between industries and in Construction over half (51%) of firms remained open as normal. Just over two in ten (22%) said they were closed until the end of lockdown while a further 9% claimed the majority of their staff were working from home.

When do you believe/expect your business will be fully operational?

Responses to this question were interestingly split between the various options – 19% feel they’ll be back to normal within a month from the survey; 38% said within three months and 27% inside six months. 14% were ‘unsure’.

In terms of future staffing, do you believe your business will return?

The same number of firms (by percentage) in our industry will be returning to full operational capacity with the same number of people than the UK average (39%).

Unfortunately, 40% (UK: 44%) will be returning with fewer people against 12% who will be looking to enlarge their workforce. For 10% it’s ‘too early to tell’.

Have you made use of the government’s furlough scheme for staff (temporary COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme in Ireland)?

Just over half (52%) of Construction firms admitted to making use of the government’s furlough scheme, which is again similar to the UK average of 50%, but significantly less than other industries, including Wholesale & Distribution, where 70% said they’d furloughed staff.

34% of businesses in the industry said they hadn’t yet needed to furlough their employees, while 7% said they’d consider it in the future, if it was still available.

Have you made a COVID-19 Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) application?

Only 18% of Construction firms had successfully applied for a CBILS loan, which is lower than the UK average of 23% and significantly less than several other industries, including Manufacturing (29%) and Engineering (32%). Only 10% had been declined while 57% had not made an application because they did not feel it was necessary; 16% were on the fence about applying.

The full results are available for download on our free-to-use SME Data Hub.

Methodology

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a Kantar survey conducted in July 2020. The survey canvassed the opinion of over 900 SME owners across the UK and Ireland and across several industries on a range of issues affecting their businesses.