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The most wonderful time of the year?

Lucy Alderson

For many, Christmas can be a time to share with family and friends, eat (and drink) too much, give and receive gifts.

But for those working in construction, that isn’t always the reality.

While some may be tucking into their turkey on Christmas Day, construction workers across the country will still be on site working on projects – some far away from home.

But it’s not just those on site who may be finding it tough this time of year. It’s been a difficult year for the industry in general – for everyone up and down the supply chain.

It started with the collapse of Carillion in January: thousands of employees losing their jobs and many left wondering what it meant for their retirement considering the company’s £800m pension deficit.

Meanwhile, Skanska announced 3,000 jobs would be cut worldwide. A month later, Lagan Construction announced it would be putting four of its divisions into administration.

This year has also seen the industry debate the issue of late payment. Payment practice reports submitted to the government revealed that the industry’s biggest contractors take an average of 47 days to pay invoices.

Indeed, the biggest single problem subcontractors reported was late payment, according to research conducted by Bibby Financial Services (BFS) this year. The report also revealed that subcontractors are writing off £2.8bn in bad debt this year. 

It hasn’t been an easy ride for the industry. And at this time of the year, celebrations could be tainted with financial worries.

It’s important to know what support is out there if you find yourself struggling. One such example is the new Construction Industry Helpline App.

The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, construction software firm Coins, and volunteer group Building Mental Health have launched the free app, which provides information, advice and guidance on many wellbeing topics including stress, anxiety, depression, anger and suicidal thoughts.

It will also provide access to support in other areas such as drug and alcohol dependency, debt management, legal advice, and emergency financial aid.

Support like this is needed now more than ever, especially considering construction already has a problem with mental health. 

CN’s latest research into the issue revealed that one in four construction workers has considered suicide.

While the industry continues to ride the 2018 storm, its important to know that help is available. After all, the most important thing is to have a healthy and safe Christmas period.

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