Damian Walters, CEO BiKBBI, Pingdemic,

BiKBBI lobbies Government on ‘pingdemic’ impact on KBB industry and installers

The BiKBBI has lobbied the Government to include installers on the list of workers that can be exempted from self-isolating if they are pinged by the NHS app.

Chief executive Damian Walters (pictured) told kbbreview that the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) has surveyed its members and almost half (46.4%) of the 5,000-plus respondents said that the app had caused, and was continuing to cause, disruption to their businesses.

The BiKBBI said thousands of home-improvement jobs have had to be cancelled, which, based on the average cost of jobs, means that millions of pounds has already been lost to the incomes of installers – mostly self-employed sole traders and SME workers. 

“We have been looking at this over the past 10 days as we have been hearing stories from our members that concerned us.”

As a result, Walters revealed that the BiKBBI would be lobbying Government later today to find a solution to the problem. He said: “We completely understand the risk associated with coronavirus and that there are still people dying and we mustn’t lose sight of that. Our industry has demonstrated the ability to meet the risk of the pandemic and the work that our institute and other organisations like us have put into the creation of safe operating procedures last year was a good example of how we can deliver a service.

“We understand why there is an app and why Test & Trace is important, but we are going to lobby Government later today because we believe that our industry in particular has risen to the challenge of safe operating procedures during the pandemic, and we see no reason why we can’t continue to do that.”

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Walters added: “Installers are taking a hit on their incomes that’s as unnecessary as it is unfair. They’ve spent the last year working to incredibly safe procedures, meaning that they could continue serving  customers throughout the pandemic. For at least half of them to now have to stop working, and earning, as the rest of the country recovers just seems utterly ridiculous.”

He highlighted the impact of this new development in the light of the ongoing skills gap. Walters said: “The net results for installers is not just an installer thing. We are in the middle of a skills gap and our installer members are in more demand with lead times three to four times longer than they normally would be. We believe that the net result of unnecessary pinging, when we could be operating safely, could be quite devastating for our industry and consumers who have projects booked in.”

The Government has also announced that from August 16, those who have been double-vaccinated will not need to self-isolate if they are pinged and can simply carry out a series of tests.

Walters added that he could confirm that the Government is holding a Cabinet meeting today to discuss the app. He said: “So I do not believe that we will be waiting until August 16 and will be hearing much sooner, if not this week.”

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