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New guidelines issued

Some construction restarts for essential works

John Newcomb: ‘sufficient signs of demand’

Construction leaders are preparing for a limited return to work after receiving clarification on what are considered essential projects from the Scottish government.

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) is issuing new guidelines from Housing Minister Kevin Stewart to its members.

They operate from 420 branches and 26 manufacturing sites across Scotland.

The BMF has also ensured supplies can be obtained in line with Covid-19 restrictions, as builders and plumbers carry out essential repairs and maintenance.

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive, said: “We believe there are now sufficient signs of demand and an appetite by builders and contractors who are returning to work to encourage merchants to re-open for business, providing it is safe to do so.

“The safety of merchant staff, suppliers and customers is paramount and the number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.”

To underpin safety, the BMF has produced new Branch Operating Guidelines for builders’ merchant staff to follow in the office and trade counter, for customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and for tool hire during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The 18-page document covers procedures for phone, click/call and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into shop or products.

Mr Newcomb added: “By taking web, phone or e-mail orders, trade customers can collect from the merchant or receive deliveries.

“This avoids non-essential customers coming into the premises and the risks that might arise.”

The BMF is a member of Scotland’s Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV), which is in regular contract with industry colleagues and the Scottish Government.

Early payments call

Two construction industry bodies have joined calls for the sector to step up and ensure payments are made on time to safeguard cashflow and ensure business and job survival.

As trade and professional bodies continue to pull out all the stops and Scottish and UK governments provide additional support to keep companies going, the Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum and Construction Scotland stressed that the sector must prove that it is trying to help itself.

Alan Wilson: ‘extraordinary difficulties’

Alan Wilson, Chair of the CICV Forum and Managing Director of SELECT, said: “The construction sector is facing extraordinary difficulties at the moment and these problems will only be exacerbated if anyone delay or refuse to pay their suppliers.

“There has been some evidence that some businesses have chosen to delay payments or extend credit terms, which is quite unacceptable – and wholly the wrong response to the current situation.

“Put simply, we will only come out of this with a viable construction sector if the cash keeps flowing and businesses which are the lifeblood of the economy can maintain enough liquidity to meet their own commitments.”

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