Reflecting on a whirlwind of a week

Reflecting on a whirlwind of a week

BLOG · BY TTF CEO DAVID HOPKINS · 27 MARCH 2020

Well, what a whirlwind of a week. What started out being mostly business as usual for the supply chain has ended in confusion and closure for many members.

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The Government announcement on Monday evening to work from home wherever possible, and to close all non-essential businesses started the confusion, as “hardware” stores – including timber and builders merchants – were exempt from the list.

Meanwhile, Government advice on construction and manufacturing – including distribution businesses – was and is to remain open but work within health and safety regulations regarding physical distancing within the workplace.

This put many of you in an impossible situation: nobody will want to be losing business in this time, yet staff from all members businesses will have seen the announcement. They are likely to be under pressure from their families to stay home and not come in, causing friction with employers.

In addition, we have numerous reports of a backlash on social media from members’ customers accusing them of profiteering by staying open.

This has left many of you not knowing what to do for the best, with lots of members’ now closing or furloughing staff to maintain operations with minimal personnel. This has come at the same time as many contractors and housebuilders close operations – some for just 48-72 hours – to assess their guidelines for work.

TTF advice for members is to act with your head and your heart: if you can continue operations while remaining within Government guidelines for health and safety – and have consulted with staff about their own concerns and the risks this may pose – then you should be free to continue.

If in doubt please read the Government’s guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines, guidance on going to work and guidance from Public Health England for employers and businesses. 

However, for the majority of members which do not feel 100% confident that they can meet those criteria, then temporary closure and making use of Government support measures is the most viable route forward. We believe a majority of our members will fall into this category by the weekend.

We would like to assure you that TTF is doing all it can to communicate with Government agencies and work with other trade associations to stay on top of the situation and give the best advice to members.

A task force of 11 organisations has been formed by the Government to deal with construction issues. The CPA is part of this and TTF will feed in our views via this route.

However, we still need to gather an accurate picture of our own membership and issues affecting you. We have constructed a short survey below – please take 5 minutes to fill this in to help us in our communications with Government and other stakeholders.

Finally, we would like to reiterate the importance of communications with your key stakeholders during this process – suppliers, customers, your own teams within your business – and where possible please do keep us informed. We are doing our best to help do whatever we can during this trying time.

We also strongly advise our members to ensure they keep closely in contact with us via our social media, including our Twitter and recently launched Covid-19 response group on LinkedIn, our newsletter, website, and Covid-19 hub.

Best regards,

David Hopkins