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Business & Economy

Newcastle-headquartered Housebuilder Bellway to resume work after COVID-19 pause

A North East-headquartered housebuilder is resuming on-site activities after formulating safety measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Bellway says work will restart on some of its estates from Monday, May 4.

The firm, headquartered in Seaton Burn, Newcastle, paused construction on March 23 after the UK entered coronavirus lockdown.

However, bosses say they are now in a position to resume operations, with social distancing measures in place to keep staff safe.

According to their plans, work will be phased in, with initial efforts focused upon properties in the latter stages of completion.

However, all but essential maintenance work in customers’ homes remains suspended, with the firm’s sales centres and show homes also still shut.

Speaking in a trading update issued today (Thursday, April 30), Jason Honeyman, group chief executive, said: “The Government has issued guidance stating that sites should continue to operate where they comply with the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures and Public Health England guidance.

“Over recent weeks, we have been reviewing these procedures.

“As a result, we have developed measures to ensure social distancing and have produced strict guidelines for workers on our sites.

“The wellbeing of our employees, customers, subcontract workforce and the general public remains our priority.”

Jason also revealed the builder has furloughed almost 75 per cent of its workforce, though he added it has committed to paying employees full basic salaries through April and May.

Furthermore, he said the group has deferred its decision to submit a claim for the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

According to the company’s trading update – which covered the period from August 1, 2019 to April 26, 2020, sales stood at 6506, compared to 6596 in the equivalent timeframe across 2018 and 2019.

Its order book stood at £1.56 billion, compared to £1.65 billion in the previous year.

Jason added: “Given the continued uncertainty, financial guidance remains suspended, however, measures taken by the group to date will ensure that Bellway remains resilient.

“Our approach, together with the group’s upfront investment in land and work in progress, should enable Bellway to emerge positively from this unprecedented crisis.”