UK politicians to take heed of roofers survey

UK politicians to take heed of roofers survey

A concerning late payment trend and a call for continuity of public non-residential RM&I are the key highlights from the latest State of the Roofing Industry member survey from NFRC and Glenigan.

Public non-residential RM&I is expected to be the fastest growing sector with 33% of firms anticipating that their workload will increase. However, following the lack of clarity in the recent Spring budget there may be a knock-on effect across the roofing sector.

Overdue payment continues to feature highly as a key concern. In fact, less than a third of respondents are paid within thirty-day terms with the figures only slightly better for those on longer terms. This has proven a consistent trend ever since the survey started.

NFRC chief executive James Talman said: “We are supportive of the government’s statutory reporting duty on Business Payment Practices and its impending update, along with the associated league tables published by Build UK. However, these measures are not improving the fortunes of the majority of our members, who also face ongoing higher labour costs. The knock-on impact for SMEs, micro-businesses and the self-employed is too often ignored in favour of others who are a strategic risk if not paid within terms.”

A rise in workload and demand for labour signals a continuing optimistic outlook, bucking the trend of many other sectors in the current economic climate.

The survey’s positive outlook hinges on the ‘refurbishment of non-domestic public works’ as a key marker. Although to enable members to invest in skills and innovation for the longer term, this pipeline must extend beyond 2025 with full government commitment. The Spring Budget’s lack of additional public sector funding for construction-related areas is likely to disappoint industry stakeholders.

Allan Wilen, Glenigan’s economic director, said: “Roofing contractors’ workload continued to improve during the final quarter of 2023, with commercial and domestic RM&I particular bright spots.”

Despite signs of a slight improvement in the commercial sector’s prospects, albeit from a low base, new house building is a major cause for concern for the substantial number of members serving this sector. However, there is reported optimism that economic indicators will start to improve the outlook, a sentiment anticipated to manifest in the next survey. Calls are being made for measures in the Spring budget to get sites moving again.

There is also positive news with regard to continuing employment opportunities across both pitched and flat roofing. Efforts to enhance the sector’s image, are evident in the professionalism demonstrated by members. This work is crucial not only to ensure retirees are replaced but also for the additional skills required in areas such as solar PV, rainwater management and living (green) roofs.

When asked how sustainability is featured in procurement considerations, the survey highlighted a disparity between rhetoric and reality. There seems to be a lack of a cohesive approach amongst members’ clients concerning common needs. NFRC aims to help drive consensus on what is practical and beneficial to all parties.

Concluding the survey’s findings, James Talman said: “I trust the conclusions from this latest survey will add to the overall understanding of this vital sector to the UK construction market and help form collective opinion. Thank you to all our members who participated, and the NFRC team and those at Glenigan for pulling it all together.”

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