The government has put the construction sector at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery framework. Here Stuart Base examines the significant role roofing contractors can play in getting Britain building again
In June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to ‘build, build, build’ to aid the country’s recovery included the most ambitious reforms to planning legislation since the Second World War, making it easier than ever before for to developers to build new homes on brownfield sites.
It was made alongside the announcement of investment of more than £12bn to improve Britain’s affordable housing stock and help the country combat a growing shortfall of new housing.
The pledge came at a pivotal time for the construction sector, as activity resumed on construction sites nationwide and contractors from across the industry were able to pick up their tools and head back to work.
This resumption of activity was welcomed by all quarters, with the health of the construction industry widely believed to be indicative of the strength of the broader economy – with City of London experts predicting a 14.3 per cent rise in GDP for Q3*.
Rise in roofing contractors
But what about the roofing sector in particular? As with all other trades within the construction industry, roofing has been acutely impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic but is showing signs of recovery. Recruitment of roofing contractors increased by 5.4 per cent as restrictions began to ease and sites reopened – one of the largest increases in any sector and a clear indicator that skilled contractors remain very much in demand.
This statistic, published in a report by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), highlights the important role roofing contractors are playing in the recovery of both the construction industry and wider UK economy.
After all, roofing contractors form part of the 3.1m professionals that the construction industry supports, helping to power the some £117bn the sector generates for the national economy each year.
With so many jobs, not to mention such a significant contribution to the UK’s GDP, reliant on a robust construction industry, it is crucial that we see sustained investment in the sector; both to safeguard it from the challenges of today, and to invest in the talent of tomorrow.
That’s why we welcome the publication of the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) roadmap to recovery, which outlines three key tenets for the sector – Restart, Reset and Reinvent. According to the timelines laid out within the plan, we are currently in the ‘Restart’ phase, which, among other actions, includes ‘ensuring effective guidance for merchants and suppliers on implementing safe procedures.’
The resumption of activity on building sites has seen an increase in demand for stock of all types. For the specialist supplier to help the construction industry keep up with this spike in demand, it is essential to have access to a robust supply chain; enabling them to invest in all the stock they need to help get Britain building again.
It was that impetus to ensure an unbroken supply of products to UK roofing contractors that led SIG Roofing to invest in a brand-new distribution hub in Bristol, designed to further strengthen our offering to roofing contractors across the South West of England and South Wales.
In August, we also unveiled our Delivery Tracking System (DTS), which provides customers with full visibility of their deliveries from the moment their order leaves the company’s warehouse. At the point or order, the customer simply provides SIG with their contact details, enabling us to keep the informed of their order’s progress every step of the way – from initial order right through to final delivery.
These innovations are the culmination of a programme of investment across multiple aspects of our business, designed to improve the service offering we can provide to our nationwide network of customers. The scale of the facility enables us to bolster our stock holding and delivery capabilities, guaranteeing an unbroken supply chain across the region.
This investment in stockholding will enable the business to broaden the scope of products we have in stock; ensuring we can maintain a wider breadth of goods on-site at any one time, minimising the risk of shortages and giving contractors confidence that we have access to any product they need, exactly when they need it.
As we look ahead, the rise of depot-to-door deliveries shows no sign of slowing. That shift in consumer habits is something we felt integral to the new facility, which is why the site features a dedicated collection point from which contractors can collect pre-ordered stock.
While this year has almost certainly been the most tumultuous in living memory for the roofing sector, it has also been one of significant opportunity. This is perhaps best represented by the government’s announcement in July of the Green House Grant, a brand-new energy efficient home improvement scheme.
The initiative will see the government pay for up to two thirds of the cost of energy efficient home improvement work up to the value of £5,000, with that limit increasing to £10,000 for people on low incomes. The scheme officially launched at the end of September, with property owners able to apply for a voucher via an online platform, which must be redeemed by March 31st 2021.
Among the jobs set to be most in demand thanks to the scheme is insulation, particularly on Flat Roofing builds; something that should spell a busy six months ahead for roofers. Contractors should therefore be investing now in all the stock they need to ensure they are well-placed to meet this demand – and end the year on a positive note.
Although the industry has endured a slowdown like nothing it has witnessed before, the sounds of activity are now ringing out on building sites nationwide and UK roofers, as a key trade within the construction industry, are playing their part to revive the economy and get Britain building again.
Stuart Base is marketing director at SIG UK. SIG Roofing is the UK’s leading specialist supplier of pitched, flat and industrial roofing solutions, with more than 100 branches strategically located across the UK.