According to research from Direct Line business insurance, over eight in ten (82%) tradespeople have seen an increase in earnings following the most recent UK lockdown beginning in January 2021. For many, the windfall has been significant, with a third (33%) seeing their income rise between 11 and 20%.
The financial boost comes as the result of a spike in workloads for tradespeople, with over half (54%) seeing a surge in their volume of jobs. 14% said their workload had vastly increased, while 40% said that it had risen somewhat.
Promisingly for some tradespeople, the heightened demand is set to last. One in ten (10%) are fully booked for six months and beyond, while nearly one quarter (24%) have a packed schedule for the next two to three months.
Tradespeople are feeling optimistic about the future, with three in ten (30%) feeling very positive about the rise in their workloads. With the average tradesperson working an extra 4.2 hours a week, a minority are feeling exhausted. 12% said that they are feeling burned out due to the busy period, even though they feel broadly positive about the rise in their workloads.
What’s fuelling the demand?
While many have been hit hard in the pocket by Covid-related economic uncertainty, the average Brit has been able to save £1,803 since March 2020 due to the closure of pubs, restaurants and non-essential retail, as well as bans on international travel.
Nearly half (45%) of those who saved money during the Covid-19 national lockdowns have spent this money on home improvements or maintenance since April 2021. An additional 20% plan to spend on home renovations over the next 12 months, suggesting that there could be further opportunities for tradespeople down the line.
Nearly one in five (18%) have improved the interior of their house or plan to do so, while 14% want to spend/have spent money on the exterior of their property, such as the garden, driveway, fencing or shed.
Norwich, Liverpool and Nottingham were the top three cities for consumer spending on home improvements and maintenance, suggesting that tradespeople in these areas could be particularly busy over the coming months.
Percentage of people that spent their national lockdown savings on home improvements/maintenance
Investing to adapt
Many tradespeople are taking bold steps to prepare their businesses for this lasting consumer demand. Nearly four in ten (39%) have invested in new tools or intend to do so, 30% have taken on an apprentice or additional staff or are currently hiring, while almost one quarter (24%) will be investing in a new work vehicle or van.
Worryingly, only 24% of tradespeople have taken out new insurance policies to protect them against the risks such as the growing problem of tool theft. A lack of protection could put their businesses at risk and jeopardise any financial gains from the rise in consumer demand.
Jane Morgan, SME Business Manager at Direct Line business insurance, stated: “The landscape looks positive for tradespeople, with many seeing workloads and earnings increasing. The heightened demand is clearly set to last, so it’s promising to see tradespeople investing in new equipment and hiring new staff so that they can continue to grow.
“It’s crucial that tradespeople review their insurance cover as their business grows. A lack of comprehensive insurance protection could hit them hard in the pocket if something goes wrong.
“At Direct Line business insurance, we have a wide range of products and services giving tradespeople the protection and value they need. From our Tradesperson cover and Tools Essentials service to our Employee Liability and Van Cover, our products give tradespeople the reassurance that if anything goes wrong, we’ll be on it.”