Call for change
Covid rule differences ‘costing firms millions’
Drew Hay: ‘frustrating position’
A conservatory company boss says a disparity in current lockdown rules north and south of the border is costing the Scottish homes improvements sector millions of pounds in lost trade.
The Scottish Government is continuing to enforce a Covid-19 lockdown that prevents work being completed in homes unless it is essential maintenance.
This rule, which is not in place in England and Wales, means companies in Scotland cannot take on new work.
Drew Hay, managing director of Balhousie in Perth, says it has resulted in a loss of £1m of orders and forced 30 direct and indirect staff, who could be working, having to be furloughed.
Mr Hay is urging ministers to lift the regulations and allow them to trade under Covid-secure guidelines so they can start new projects and complete existing jobs.
“We find ourselves in a really frustrating position in that our online leads are 94% up on this time last year, but we can’t progress any of them due to the current Scottish restrictions,” explained Mr Hay.
“Installers and surveyors aren’t allowed to work at the moment unless it is essential maintenance, so despite a massive demand for home improvements, we have had to furlough the majority of staff, including young apprentices just starting out.”
He continued: “The restrictions need to be lifted immediately to allow Scottish home improvement businesses to fit existing jobs, collect outstanding monies and to capitalise on new sales to support our recovery.
“We can’t see a justified explanation as to why the Scottish rules are different and, if things don’t change, we’ll be left in limbo until the end of April at the earliest.”
Balhousie, which was established in 1993, is part of the Conservatory Outlet’s 26-strong retail network of installation companies.
The company works with hundreds of customers across central Scotland, helping them design and install high quality doors, windows, conservatories, sunrooms and extensions.
Mr Hay added: “This is a hugely important decision for the recovery of our industry and many others. We have recently applied for a discretionary grant to help us through this difficult period in our company’s history.
“We’re really proud of our sales team who have innovated to use Zoom and Facetime. It is a really popular approach, with potential online leads up 94% on this time in 2020.”
He concluded: “We’ll continue to work with the Glass & Glazing Federation to see if we can instigate change and would appreciate it if even more Scottish consumers write to their MPs to highlight the disparity in the rules.”