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Travis Perkins’ survey finds UK trades remain optimistic despite Covid-19 and Brexit

Builders, electricians, decorators, plumbers and joiners are more optimistic now than they were after the Brexit vote and the midst of the financial crisis in 2008, according to a survey by builder’s and plumber’s merchant group Travis Perkins has found.

The group’s Repair, Maintenance and Improvement (RMI) Index reveals a confidence score for upcoming workload of 52. The survey polled more than 1,300 tradespeople in the UK last month. Respondents included both sole traders and businesses employing up to 100 staff.

The report found 72% think work will come from domestic repairs and maintenance.

This compares to 16% from new build housing, 15% from commercial and industrial activity and 15% from public sector work. Just 2% of respondents believe work will come from infrastructure projects, despite the Prime Minister’s election promise to “level up”.

The report also asked the nation’s tradespeople about the upcoming Brexit deadline. Over a third of respondents believe a “no deal” outcome to the negotiations will have no impact on their business. While some are still clearly concerned, almost all – 97% – of those surveyed are taking no measures to prepare for this outcome.

Chief executive of Travis Perkins, Nick Roberts said: “I am reassured to see the nation’s tradespeople are feeling upbeat about the outlook for their businesses over the next two months.”

“Despite the economic challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic, the majority of tradespeople told us that they are, on the whole, looking towards increased workloads, greater requirements for materials and a resurgent domestic repair and improvement market.”

“Confidence in expected workloads for the next two months compares favourably to the data we collected in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the weeks following the Brexit referendum in 2016.”

Roberts added: “The nation’s army of tradespeople already significantly contribute to our economy, but we are also acutely aware of the hugely important role they have played in supporting their communities during the pandemic. Their confidence in the near-term outlook and resilience in the face of such challenging market conditions is something that should give us all cause for optimism at this time.”

The full report can be read here

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Editor-in-Chief across the BMJ portfolio.

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