The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) has called on the Government to support the home improvement industry in the economic recovery after lockdown eases.
Commenting on the day the Prime Minister will announce how the UK will emerge from lockdown, the institute has called for immediate action to help independent retailers open their doors and get installers to work.
In addition, it is calling for longer-term interventions that stimulate consumer demand, open up supply chains and support skills development.
Chief executive of BiKBBI Damian Walters said: “Tradespeople and independent businesses in the home improvement industry cannot afford to be ignored by the Government as we finally begin to open up the country.
“Our industry has felt the economic impact of the pandemic more than most. Installers in England and Wales invested time and money into Safe Operating Procedures that allowed them to continue serving customers through the most recent lockdown, but our members north of the border were forced to down tools as the Scottish Government took a much more restrictive approach.
“As a result, far too many tradespeople have struggled to make ends meet due the additional expenditure needed to work safely or the loss of income from being unable to work at all.
“Meanwhile, the industry’s independent retailers were forced to close their doors while larger competitors carried on trading thanks to loopholes that allowed them to classify as trade suppliers.
“The loss of business could force many shops to close for good, doing further damage to high streets that are already struggling.
“Our industry is one of the cornerstones of the UK economy, providing products and services in demand across every part of the country and offering a route to skilled work for people from all walks of life.”
He called for kbb retailers to be considered as essential, like merchants and DIY outlets.
Walters said: “It’s vital that every effort is made to help it quickly recover from the hit it has taken over the past year.
“This means immediately declassifying independent Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom retailers from being ‘non-essential’ so that they can compete on a level playing field with large trade suppliers.
“It also means working with the Scottish Government to ensure that installers in Scotland can get back to work as quickly as possible.”
And he pointed to measures Government must make to stimulate the home improvement market, such as tax incentives, to encourage people to invest in their home, as well as support for education and training to maintain a skilled workforce.
Boilig water tap manufacturer Quooker recently lent its support to the BiKBBI with a six figure investment into its apprenticeships scheme.
Walters concluded: “The Prime Minister has offered a glimmer of hope to tradespeople and independent retailers who have had to contend with such huge challenges over the past year, but more will be needed to help them play a part as the national recovery gets underway.”