Industry leaders urge PM to keep sites open

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  Posted by: electime      18th March 2020

Andy Mitchell – CLC co-chair

The Construction Leadership Council and main employers bodies are concerned that the government will impose a enforced lockdown, saying to do so would warns trigger many thousands of job losses, closure of thousands of businesses and delays and cost increases on crucial programmes and projects. A letter, signed by CLC co-chair Andy Mitchell, was sent to the PM yesterday outlining the concerns.

The letter said: “Our requirement is that we are able to keep our construction sites operational during this time, in order to avoid many thousands of job losses.”

He added: “If construction activity comes to [a] halt, given the scale of employment provided by our sector, there would be an immediate need to for the government to provide emergency financing to keep the industry operational.”

The letter calls for tax deferrals on PAYE and VAT and that public sector clients continue to pay their subcontractors and supply chain.

He added a shutdown of the sector would financially cripple firms. “Many construction companies will not have enough cash available to continue to pay suppliers and wages, even if there is a relatively limited period of economic inactivity.”

The government has since unveiled a package of financial measures to shore up the economy against the coronavirus impact, which may go some way towards comforting those that will be affected.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told a press conference it was an “economic emergency. Never in peacetime have we faced an economic fight like this one.”

Mr Sunak said: “Some sectors are facing particularly acute challenges. In the coming days, my colleague the Secretary of State for Transport and I will discuss a potential support package specifically for airlines and airports.”

The chancellor said he was extending the business rates holiday to all firms in the hospitality sector and funding grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for small businesses. And Mr Sunak said that for those in financial difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer a three-month mortgage holiday.

BBC personal finance correspondent Simon Gompertz said it was important for borrowers to remember that they would have to make up the payments at a later date.

“The result is that you have some breathing space but when you resume payments the amount will be adjusted to be slightly higher, because the missed interest payments have been added to the loan,” he said. “This doesn’t mean the mortgage holiday is a bad idea.”