Counting the cost of Covid – How healthy is UK construction really?

Construction health Ellis Fox Blog

This past week saw yet another major construction and property service company Midas fall into administration. Construction has halted on all projects and it’s estimated that more than 300 people have lost their jobs. This is significant in an industry that has been experiencing steady growth the past two years despite the pandemic, and a harsh reminder that growth isn’t always an indicator of health.

The company had seven offices across the UK and was involved in building schools, hotels, commercial buildings and hospitals. It cited the pressures brought on by Covid as a major reason for closure. The down side  is amounts due to the supply chain and smaller subcontractors wont get paid, not to mention the projects that were underway have now rapidly come to a halt including local council contracts. There are gaping holes that need to be filled that are going to come at a major cost to the local economy.

While this has made the news, it is far from the only administration in recent months. In fact there have been a steady stream of them in the past 2 years. It seems that despite recent growth, the construction is still struggling and industry inflationary pressures are only going to make it worse.

There always talk of reform needed in construction, but how much progress has really been made?

Late payments and mismanagement remain a problem. Diversity in the workforce has only made marginal gains and the skills shortage is driving up the cost of senior professionals and making it harder for companies to retain good people. There’s no doubt that in time the 300 unemployed people will find other jobs in the industry without too much difficulty, but it’ll still come at a cost.

Construction needs to take a hard look in the mirror and have some honest conversations about what needs to change. Systemic problems will continue to plague the industry unless real change happens. One can’t just put a band aid on them and pretend everything’s fine because there’s a promise of new projects and investment.

Instead of fighting against things like hybrid and flexible working conditions, companies should embrace them. After all isn’t the end objective a happier and more productive workforce? People are the most valuable asset the industry has, listen to them, support  and equip them and then maybe construction can gain a healthier state.