Monday 17 August 2020 12:01 am

UK tradespeople remain optimistic despite pandemic uncertainty

Tradespeople in the UK continue to remain optimistic for near-term workloads despite the economic havoc triggered by the pandemic. 

A survey of over 1,300 tradespeople conducted by builders’ merchant Travis Perkins, found half of the respondents believe their workloads will increase and will have to buy new materials over the next two months. 

Read more: UK construction sector slashes more jobs despite post-lockdown boom

The first publication of the Repair, Maintenance and Improvement (RMI) Index reveals a confidence score for upcoming workload of 52.

This is higher than it was in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum four years ago – 45 – and significantly higher than when it slumped to minus 7 during the financial crisis. 

Chief executive of Travis Perkins, Nick Roberts said: “I am reassured to see the nation’s tradespeople are feeling upbeat about the outlook for their businesses over the next two months.”

“Despite the economic challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic, the majority of tradespeople told us that they are, on the whole, looking towards increased workloads, greater requirements for materials and a resurgent domestic repair and improvement market.”

Travis Perkins’ poll of the nation’s builders, electricians, plumbers and other tradespeople found 72 per cent think work will come from domestic repairs and maintenance.

This compares to 16 per cent from new build housing, 15 per cent from commercial and industrial activity and 15 per cent from public sector work. Just two per cent of respondents believe work will come from infrastructure projects, despite the Prime Minister’s election promise to “level up”. 

Read more: Construction sector rebounds sharply as UK reopens

The report also asked the nation’s tradespeople about the upcoming Brexit deadline. Over a third of respondents believe a “no deal” outcome to the negotiations will have no impact on their business. While some are still clearly concerned, almost all – 97 per cent – of those surveyed are taking no measures to prepare for this outcome. 

Roberts added: “The nation’s army of tradespeople already significantly contribute to our economy, but we are also acutely aware of the hugely important role they have played in supporting their communities during the pandemic. Their confidence in the near-term outlook and resilience in the face of such challenging market conditions is something that should give us all cause for optimism at this time.”