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The National Federation of Builders (NFB) and its members remember what happened the last time the economy crashed in 2008. A third of housebuilders ceased trading, 100,000 construction jobs were lost and industry has still not fully recovered.
The coronavirus crisis is far more devastating and wider reaching than the 2008 crash and has the potential to see widespread closures across the entire industry.
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) said: “We are in constant dialogue with our members and they have put forward their current top needs to help the industry survive and recover from the coronavirus. During this crisis, the Government has already proved it’s willing to listen to industry and it must continue to do so, if we stand any hope of protecting those who will drive our economic recovery”.
The NFB membership proposes that the Government take the follow actions as the next steps needed to protect the industry:
- Include construction companies and housebuilders in the business rates relief exemption – Allowing reduced cost burden while our business does not receive income
- Immediately suspend planning contribution (CIL/section 106) payments – Businesses will be paying a tax on an income which cannot be generated
- Immediately suspend council tax charges on new build unoccupied/incomplete homes – Homes cannot be sold or completed, therefore will not use any council services
- Automatically extend all planning permissions by a year – Work has ground to a halt, permissions are lapsing and projects will take months to restart
- Release written sector guidance for construction – This will ensure the wider industry continues operating, as, eg: merchants, service providers have shut down, meaning homes cannot be sold or completed.
- Open the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CRJS) as soon as possible – The timeframe is too long and businesses will close while trying to manage their cash flow
In these unprecedented times, the country must make tough decisions and the NFB believes that these actions are not only workable but most are immediately deliverable.
Beresford, continued: “We must ensure that as many businesses remain resilient and have enough of their own cash to survive this pandemic. Our measures will help do that, especially as many companies are now not earning any revenues. If we don’t act now, thousands of companies and their supply chains will go to the wall.”
Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the House Builders Association (HBA), said: “These measures will help to save thousands of small and medium sized housebuilders. Without them, we haven’t got a hope of solving our housing and skills crisis, or levelling up our nation.”