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A new report by UK’s Timber Trade Federation (TTF) has found that the UK timber supply chain is well stocked and ready to support a return to construction. 

A survey of TTF members, which attracted 54 responses, also showed that garden products and plywood were product categories identified as having shortages.

Compared to last year, respondents’ sales fell 33% in March and by 66% in April, while 69% report their cash flow has decreased significantly.

Encouragingly, around 40% of members say that if restrictions are lifted they could return to normal sales in the next three months, with 9% of these saying they could do so in less than a month.

The overwhelming majority (97%) said they could implement safe site operating procedures either partially (27%) or fully (70%) in their business, with growth in demand being the number one factor for deciding to reopen businesses, followed closely by specific advice from Government.

Key risks in the supply chain include ‘unfair’ payments, difficulty of transporting timber to sites, and being unable to source from suppliers.

Some 85% of respondents are accessing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, 56% have contacted HMRC about deferring tax, and 45% have contacted their bank about accessing the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans.

“While there is rightly a health first focus, it is important that the economy, and the construction industry, finds ways to safely reopen,” said David Hopkins, TTF CEO.

“Fortunately, there has been a collective effort across the industry to pave a way out of the crisis and find new ways of operating.

“It’s clear from this survey that there is no shortage of stock within the supply chain, and that traders are ready to re-start operations as soon as the manufacturing and construction sites they serve also start operations. It is important that all businesses maintain communications up and down their supply chains to ensure a smooth re-start of business across the country just as soon as it is safe to do so.”

“As the UK emerges from this crisis, we will be calling on the Government to inject stimulus into sustainable construction, with timber a key part of an emergent green economy.

“By working together and maintaining clear lines of communication, we are confident of the ability of the timber supply chain to weather the crisis.”

The full report can be downloaded here

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