Say Y.E.S. to the challenge
22 June 2020
The Scottish government has been very cautious in lifting the lockdown. As the aim of this blog is to provide a record of the Covid-19 pandemic and the hire industry’s response, I’ll try to summarise the main timeline here.
The government north of the border initially advised that all non-essential work should stop from the 23 March lockdown. Projects that could continue included essential public services and critical infrastructure maintenance, as long as social distancing and site safety measures were observed.
Other sites were allowed to prepare to re-open following an initial relaxing of lockdown restrictions on 29 May, with work getting underway from 12 June and gradually increasing in stages, again provided that the spread of the virus remained within limits.
Like many other Scottish hirers, Y.E.S. (Your Equipment Solutions) of Falkirk has seen a slow but steady uplift in activity. “At the beginning of lockdown we closed but I had all calls routed to my mobile in case we could help,” Managing Director David Johnstone told me. “When it became clear that we were allowed to supply customers undertaking essential work, like utilities, hospitals and wind farms, we re-opened with strict social distancing in place at the depot and safety measures like Perspex counter screens.”
David says that more sites have been opening since 12 June. However, he advises caution regarding the speed of the UK recovery. He believes that some sites may re-open to finish the initial stages of projects that were interrupted by the lockdown, but could then be mothballed until developers feel more certain of future prospects. “We could see six to nine months of activity followed by calm,” he says.
“However, we are certainly busy at the moment. All our mini excavators are out on hire, and we have just invested in some additional kit, including equipment for a long-term infrastructure project. So we are still positive.”
* In what could be a further boost to hirers north of the order, on 16 June the Scottish government announced a £230m Return to Work package of projects to help stimulate Scotland’s economy. It says that this is funded by the reallocation of under-spends from schemes interrupted by the pandemic.
Work will comprise: £51m for business support, including high-growth companies; £78m for construction, with £40m for regeneration projects and £20m for roads maintenance; £66m to boost a green recovery, such as £7m to equip buses for physical distancing; and £35m for digitisation, including justice and education services.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said, “Larger programmes will follow and I will continue pressing the UK Government both for new financial powers and greater certainty over funding.”