Nearly half of UK tradespeople (46%) say their workload has increased since lockdown loosened in June 2020, according to new research by Direct Line.
Those reporting an uptake in business have seen their workloads soar by an average of 29%, and this has fuelled optimism that tradespeople will emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever before. Nearly six in ten (55%) say they’re feeling positive about their business and trade prospects and more than a quarter feel neutral (28%).
Builders have been by far the busiest tradespeople since lockdown loosened, with nearly half (49%) reporting an upsurge in work. They were followed by plumbers (16%), electricians (13%) and carpenters (10%).
Over half of tradespeople (52%) say that the uplift in business has been due to people attempting DIY jobs and repairs during the strictest lockdown months and making a hash of it. This was worst in London, where two thirds (66%) said they’d had to fix dodgy DIY.
Other reasons cited for the increase were extra wear and tear due to people spending more time at home (37%) and people having more time to deal with home callouts because they’re in the home more frequently (39%).
Overall, tradespeople have been busiest in London, where 54% reported an increase in their workload. This was followed by Wales, where half (50%) said they’d got a lot busier since lockdown loosened and the south, where 47% said they’d seen an uplift in work.
To take advantage of the opportunities, tradespeople are taking bold decisions. Nearly three in ten (27%) say they’re adjusting their pricing to become more competitive, while a quarter are investing in new tools and equipment to help them work effectively. Nearly one in five (18%) are bringing on more staff or an apprentice to help them manage their increased workloads.
Despite many investing in new tools, only a third of tradespeople (34%) have specific insurance in place to protect their essential equipment. Of those who don’t have or plan to take out this insurance, more than one in three (35%) say they don’t think it’s necessary.
Jonny McHugh, SME Business Manager at Direct Line, said: “As lockdown loosens, there are clearly outstanding opportunities for tradespeople to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever. Already, many are reporting an increase in their workload and are making investments in new tools and equipment to ensure they capitalise on opportunities.
“But with tool theft a growing problem, it’s important that tradespeople take out insurance to protect their essential equipment. The effect of losing vital tools can be devastating, preventing jobs from being carried out and hitting tradespeople hard in the pocket. This could stop them from capitalising on the new landscape.
“At Direct Line, we know essential tools aren’t just objects but are vital to tradespeople’s livelihoods. When it comes to getting tradespeople back to business quickly, we’re on it”.
Direct Line’s new Tools Essentials offering will help tradespeople get back to work quickly by helping them to replace their essential tools within 24 hours, with an upfront faster payment of up to £1,500, subject to a few checks. Tools Essentials is available to all customers who have a valid tools claim and policy with Direct Line – Business. Claims can be reported between 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday, except Bank Holidays, policy limits and exclusions apply.