HomeServe Foundation

 Households spend 35 per cent more on home improvements in 2020, up an average of £433 per home on 2019, as demand soars for skilled tradespeople - and the boom is expected to last into 2021 and 2022 

With apprenticeships 50 per cent down, youth unemployment rising, the impact of COVID and Brexit, FTSE 100 firm HomeServe launches new HomeServe Foundation to create 25,000 UK apprenticeships by 2023 and plug ‘huge’ expected UK trade skills gap

UK homeowners have splurged up to £7.5billion* more on home improvements during 2020 compared to 2019, and demand for skilled tradespeople is expected to soar again in 2021 and 2022, according to new insights.

Two thirds of UK homeowners say they have hired or intend to hire skilled traders to work on their homes during 2020, spending £1,687 on average, up 35 per cent on 2019 (£1,254).

Most say they are expecting to spend the same or more as they have in 2020 during 2021 and 2022 (51 per cent), and demand has been so high during 2020, that one in seven homeowners (13 per cent) say they have struggled to find a tradesperson to help with their home improvements.

The soaring demand for tradespeople during 2020 and beyond has prompted FTSE-100 company HomeServe to launch the new not-for-profit HomeServe Foundation, which is aiming to plug the apprenticeship gap in UK plc by helping companies create up to 25,000 new apprenticeships over the next three years.

“As these results show, the home refurbishment boom is real, but is it sustainable and are trade businesses ready for it?’ said Helen Booth, Director of the new HomeServe Foundation, which launches today.

“The aim of the HomeServe Foundation is really straightforward: we want to support more young people to have a bright future, get excellent training and find a good and fulfilling job in a sector that is growing.

“But also, if trade businesses don’t invest in the new talent pipeline, demand could be unfulfilled, leaving homeowners battling to find tradespeople to work on their homes and trades businesses missing out.”

“There is a lot of uncertainty around trade skills right now,” Helen added. “We have a genuine triple threat to future skills for our trade industries. We have low apprentice numbers, which are expected to be down around 50 per cent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic

“Then we have Brexit and the potential departure of skilled foreign national tradespeople that could follow. I’m not sure we’ve really understood the potential impact of this yet.

“And finally, we still have to gauge the trade industry’s response to, and uptake of, new government incentives put in place to help bring through the next pipeline of trade skills talent.

“This potential huge skills gap is something we have to address as a nation, supported by government and big businesses like us at HomeServe. Through the HomeServe Foundation, we’ll be doing our bit to aim to plug the apprenticeship gap in the UK, particularly with other trade businesses, through education, support and training provision.”

Meanwhile, young people are on track to be hardest hit by the pandemic. According to recent statistics, a staggering one third of all 18-24-year-olds have lost jobs or been furloughed during the Covid-19 crisis. 

“If trade businesses don’t invest in the new talent pipeline such as taking on a young apprentice, demand could be unfulfilled, leaving homeowners battling to find tradespeople to work on their homes with firms ultimately missing out on new business opportunities,” Helen added.

The independent research of more than 2,000 UK homeowners was commissioned by the new HomeServe Foundation and carried out by One Poll.

It revealed that, so far in 2020, the majority of spend on home improvements have been for plumbers (41 per cent of all those surveyed), followed by electricians (27 per cent), central heating engineers (26 per cent), joiners (15 per cent) and landscape gardeners (14 per cent).

Builders’ bank balances have benefitted more from the boom, with an average of £324 spent during 2020, followed by plumbers (£231), painters and decorators (£216), gardeners (£216), floorers (£212) and central heating engineers (£208).

For many, their home improvements in 2020 were not planned, as more than one in three (41 per cent) admit having only carried them out because of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

Around one in three (34 per cent) say they’ve used their unspent family holiday cash or spending money to fund this year’s splurge on their homes, and seven per cent say they’ve managed to save unspent petrol money to fund them.

For the remainder of 2020, homeowners are expecting to spend more with plumbers (26 per cent), electricians (21 per cent), central heating engineers (19 per cent), painters and decorators (18 per cent) and joiners (14 per cent).

For 2021 and 2022, demand will be highest for painters and decorators (27 per cent), landscape gardeners (18 per cent), bathroom fitters (15 per cent), kitchen fitters (14 per cent) and plumbers (12 per cent).

Around 12 per cent of all home improvement jobs have been supported by apprentices during 2020.

A further 87 per cent of homeowners also believe that trades businesses should be investing more in the next generation of talent in their respective trades.

For more information on how the HomeServe Foundation can support trades businesses with apprenticeships, or simply to find out more, please visit

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