Chairman of the NAPIT Trade Association and our Chief Technical Officer Frank Bertie discusses the results from our recent COVID-19 member impact survey and addresses our member’s concerns about returning to ‘normal’ working life.
NAPIT carried out two surveys in May to understand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had and continues to have on our members business operations. The results have enabled us to understand how our members are feeling about their current situation, and what position they think their businesses will be in as we start to ease the lockdown.
We are proud that our members have been classified as ‘key workers’, and the survey confirmed that 75% of members have been providing emergency services to the general public in these unprecedented times, whilst also supporting family and those requiring shielding. To enable us to assist our members completing emergency jobs, we launched a new ’emergency call outs’ search preference to support those members who were able and willing to carry out emergency repairs and maintenance, and also to help consumers find a reliable and certified tradesperson from our membership during this difficult time.
The fast evolution of COVID-19 has caused concern for many businesses, with the added pressure that arises from loss or earnings. Over half of members said they felt it had caused high impact to their business operations, with only 6% of members reporting either little or no impact at all. Consumer confidence is also adding to the uncertainty, as over three quarters of our members advised they have received no new enquiries for work, 71% have had contracts paused, and 58% reported upcoming work being cancelled. Consequently, it was no surprise that the general consensus from our members is that the vast majority feel nervous about the future of their businesses moving forward.
We expected the announcement from the Prime Minister advising ‘to go back to work if you can’t work from home’ to cause some anxiety for tradespeople all over the UK due to working in people’s homes. We wanted to know what impact this had on their ‘back to work’ mind-set. The survey confirmed that just under half are now working more than they have been over the past few weeks, but no ‘business as usual’, whilst 35% are awaiting further relaxation of lockdown before returning to work.
Moving forward, it is pleasing to know that 44% of members are feeling comfortable enough to return to work, however we understand there are others who feel it is slightly premature. Calls for further assistance from the Government to support company directors and the recent self-employed were made by our members to support business.
Our survey results have been communicated to officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy during our regular communication with them. We will continue to support their decision-making process going forward and push for extra guidance and support to increase consumer confidence and stimulate demand in the repair, maintenance, improvement and construction sectors.