At the moment, we have 6,000 homes in Scotland that are nearly completed. The construction sector is waiting to start rebuilding those homes, but it does not yet know when it can do so. I have been contacted by customers—who are the important people—across the country, who are waiting to get into their homes, including one man today, who was written to by the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning and advised to contact the housing charity, Shelter.
All that people want to know is when builders can start working again. What is the answer to that question?
I will make three quick points. First, the important people in the context of the crisis are the entire population of Scotland, and the priority is to keep people as safe as possible from a virus that we know from the evidence—and from the discussions that we have had here even today—can have a potentially deadly impact. That must continue to be our guiding principle in all of this.
Secondly, in the route map that I set out in the chamber last Thursday, we indicated that, if and when we move into it, phase 1 will allow the construction sector to implement the first two stages of its own restart programme, which is a programme that has been developed through collaboration between Government and the industry.
The third point is that, as I said previously today, we will make the formal assessment tomorrow of whether the evidence says that it is safe for us move into phase 1. I will set that out tomorrow, when I will make clear what changes in phase 1 we are prepared to make at that stage that are consistent with trying to get back to as much normality as possible, while continuing to suppress the virus. We will give as much clarity about all that as we can, step by step, but we will not—we must not—take our eye off the priority of keeping the virus suppressed and not allowing it to get out of control again.