Joe Hudson, CEO of Ibstock Plc, the UK’s largest provider of clay and concrete building materials, explains why the government’s latest lockdown announcement signals hope for the construction sector.
In the Government’s most recent review of the UK’s lockdown measures, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a three-step ‘road map to recover’; a plan to get Britain back to work, safely.
Among the industries most keenly affected by this announcement is, undoubtedly, the construction sector. Indeed, a study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that the construction industry has been ‘disproportionately impacted’ by the lockdown, with estimates suggesting it could have cost the sector up to £237m per day at its peak.
That’s why the Government’s announcement last Sunday, of a phased approach to get Britons back to work, was met with cautious optimism across the construction sector. The new plans could see more flexible hours, enabling professionals to work until later in the evening or at the weekend.
For tradespeople, many of whom are self-employed, the statement provided some much needed clarity as to when they could get back on site and, crucially, start earning again.
And from a wider economic perspective, the green light for construction work to re-start can only be good news. From housing developments to major infrastructure projects, the construction sector plays a vital role in powering the UK economy; a role that will be amplified further as the UK takes its first steps towards economic recovery.
Sitting at the heart of building, Ibstock is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges – and opportunities – facing the sector at the moment. That’s why we’re working to ensure construction professionals have access to all of the stock they need, to do their jobs well.
At the end of last month, we announced the phased recommencement of activity across our nationwide network of facilities. By prioritising those facilities experiencing higher demand, we were able to get crucial stock out to customers; working with the industry to restart construction.
We are continuing to ramp up activity throughout our facilities, ensuring we are in close step with the construction sector as more and more building sites reopen nationwide. Thanks to investments made into the reliability and capacity of our assets across the past 18 months, we have maintained good stock levels, ensuring we can continue to provide an uninterrupted supply chain throughout the re-start period.
What’s more, as a British manufacturer, more than 95% of our raw materials come from UK quarries, which, coupled with the scope of our manufacturing network, means we are able to provide a low average radial delivery mileage, thus bolstering the responsiveness of our service.
It’s clear that the UK construction industry faces a long road ahead. There is no silver bullet for the pandemic, and it’s not clear for how long the virus – and the associated lockdown – will be part of our daily lives. But as activity begins to resume on building sites across the UK, Ibstock stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the industry to ensure we’re supporting them when they need it most, and, ultimately, help them get Britain building again.