Nine in 10 engineers fear business impact of Covid-19

Businesses encountering delays, access issues and cancellations, survey reveals

Credit: – Hanohiki

Nine in 10 engineering services businesses are concerned or very concerned about the impact of coronavirus on their business over the next six months, according to an industry survey.

The ECA, BESA and Select engineering services survey – which, at the time of going to press, had had 600 responses, including nearly 180 from larger businesses – reveals that 93% of firms are worried about the fallout from Covid-19. More than 60% of respondents said they were ‘very concerned’, while 1% of respondents suggested they were ‘unconcerned’.

Half (51%) of the engineering services respondents said they have already encountered ‘delays and disruptions to current projects’,
with 61% of larger businesses reporting current disruption. Around half of respondents reported ‘delays and disruption to future work’, while more than half (53%) said they were ‘preparing business contingency plans’ – a figure that rose to 71% in larger businesses.

The most commonly cited response to coronavirus was ‘reducing business travel’ and ‘asking or allowing staff to work from home’, followed by ‘business contingency planning.’ Around 10% of businesses said they had ‘shut down at certain premises or sites’, and more than 10% said they were ‘updating their contracts’ and ‘looking into alternative suppliers’.

The Treasury and Bank of England are coordinating efforts to support firms, and construction companies are anxiously waiting to hear the details behind the £330bn assigned to help businesses hit by the coronavirus crisis. (See panel, ‘Treasury creates support fund’.)

ECA CEO Steve Bratt said: ‘Coronavirus is already having a significant impact across our industry and wider society. We are working with industry bodies and government to represent the concerns and interests of the industry.’

BESA director of legal and commercial Debbie Petford added: ‘The sheer scale of the disruption is alarming. We will be working around the clock to provide as much guidance as possible to our members, and calling on the government to keep providing additional stimulus and support.’

Industry task force established

An industry taskforce has been set up to work with the department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) and government to ‘protect the current and future of the construction industry’ amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The CLC Industry Task Force, which includes CEOs from a small number of organisations, including the Construction Industry Council, will respond to a remit provided by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). It will meet on a virtual basis with full-time resource .

The taskforce has been asked to report daily to the construction minister and the chair of the CLC for guidance and to provide updates, and it is expected to have a communications sub-group to keep the industry and media updated.