Returning workers ‘worth €70 bn’ to UK construction

By Mike Hayes10 June 2021

Furloughed construction staff in the UK could aid Covid recovery, according to new data

Construction site

Construction workers returning from furlough have the capacity to generate revenue of around £60 billion (€69.5 billion) for the industry in the UK, according to new data.

Business intelligence firm Red Flag Alert reports that, when the UK’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ends on 30 September 2021, it will have rescued some 69,000 construction companies from closure and kept more than 454,000 construction workers in employment.

On average, the company says, each construction worker contributes over €150,000 to the UK economy each year.

The Red Flag Alert report follows a recent IHS Markit/CIPS Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index that suggested UK construction was enjoying its strongest phase of growth for over six years. If this growth continues, the need for furloughed workers to return is likely to increase.

Dr Nicola Headlam, chief economist at Red Flag Alert, said, “We’ve crunched data from more than 69,000 construction companies using furlough and found the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has saved up to 98% of jobs that could have otherwise likely been lost during Covid.

“This level of job retention provides construction companies with the ability to more quickly recover from coronavirus disruption. They already have workforces in place with the required skills and experience that can immediately respond to pent up demand and do so both efficiently and effectively.”

Dr Headlam added, “Markets are rebounding and there’s a lot of positive momentum in terms of growth. However, data will be intrinsic to recovery and it’s critical that companies in the construction sector and beyond fully understand the financial health of the businesses they rely on.

“Whether they are targeting businesses for growth or depending on them as suppliers, companies need to be aware that not all entities will survive the end of furlough. Our data shows there are up to 35,000 businesses nationally in such a position, with 1,400 in the construction sector – paying 100% of wages will prove too much of a strain on their balance sheets and risks pushing them towards failure.

“If construction companies are to reap the rewards of their returning workforces, they need to ensure they are delivering services for companies with the ability to pay their bills as they bounce back from Covid.”

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Mike Hayes Editor, Construction Europe Tel: +44 (0)1892 786 231 E-mail:
Catrin Jones Deputy Editor, Editorial, UK – Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 791 2298 133 E-mail:
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