It has been humbling – and perhaps a salutary reminder of our vulnerability as a species – to discover over the past few weeks that despite our wealth, sophistication and technology we remain part of the natural word.
A microscopic virus has almost brought us to our knees. Sadly, the lessons of our vulnerability are being learned not just by society at large but by individuals, with many people becoming ill and dying from the coronavirus.
Business and the economy are obviously being affected as well. As we grapple with the wider health crisis many businesses will go to the wall, despite (and in some cases because of) government action. As with individuals weakened by pre-existing medical conditions who have proven to be the least able to cope with viral infection, so too it is businesses that were struggling already that are going to be the ones that fail.
That seems likely to happen across the economy, with few sectors proving to be immune.
Construction and housebuilding are no less prone to the problems than any other part of the economy. While it is clear that Chancellor Rishi Sunak wants to ‘get Britain building’, his vision for the sector has been temporarily delayed.
The chancellor is only too well aware that the construction industry is a big contributor to the UK economy. In 2018, the construction sector (commercial and housing combined) contributed £117 billion to the UK economy.
While the latest government announcement (26 March 2020) effectively shuts down much of the housing market, those seeking to buy and move into a new-build home are being given a degree of flexibility since the homes being sold are unoccupied and pose a lesser risk than occupied resale homes. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak).
What the government said about buying homes which are unoccupied
Here’s what the government said in its statement:
"Where the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance in this document on home removals.”
Clearly developers have to amend the protocols that they have in place to manage the process in accordance with the government’s guidelines. This is clearly positive news for people looking to complete on their new home purchases, and even those looking to buy newly built homes.
What Larkfleet Homes is doing to help buyers
To help those enquiring about new homes, we are able to offer all existing and potential customers the opportunity to view our show homes via high quality virtual tours.
Support for the self-employed
It has also been good to see in recent days the Chancellor extend to freelancers and the self-employed the support being offered to companies to help pay wage bills. Many in the construction industry are self-employed contractors and it seems only reasonable that they should receive the same protections as those who are employed by bigger companies.
At Larkfleet our primary concern is the safety of our staff, contractors and customers. So, we are taking appropriate action to safeguard their health.
Where possible, we are doing this while also seeking to meet our commitments to deliver new homes on schedule for our customers.
Events of the past few weeks have clearly shown that humanity is not ‘in charge’ of its own destiny. But as we work our way though the crisis, we must get back to normal economic activity as swiftly as possible.
At Larkfleet, we will take a lead in this. But we also look to government to play its part.