Growth has slowed among construction SMEs nationwide, according to the Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB) latest ‘State of Trade Survey‘.
The FMB survey – currently the industry’s only quarterly assessment of SME performance – revealed that workloads had remained broadly positive during Q3 2018, though the rate of growth shrank in comparison to the previous quarter. Elsewhere, 86% of SME builders reported a rise in material prices in Q3 – up from 76% in Q2 2018.
Compounding these issues is the much-publicised skills shortage. More than two-thirds (68%) of SME builders have struggled to source bricklayers in Q3, while 59% have experienced similar difficulties hiring carpenters and joiners. Encouragingly enough, more than half (58%) of SME builders expect salaries and wages to rise over the next six months however.
“This slowdown in growth should ring alarm bells for the UK government and give rise to a total rethink of its misguided post-Brexit immigration proposals,” commented Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB. “Currently, the government wants to significantly limit the number of construction workers coming into the UK post-Brexit, labelling them ‘low skilled’ and therefore somehow surplus to requirements.
“Migrant construction workers are indispensable with 13% of our construction workers being from outside of the UK. If construction firms are unable to hire migrant workers post-Brexit, the already severe skills crisis will worsen. This will mean we won’t be able to the build the new homes the government is keen on delivering and infrastructure projects will grind to a halt. It is imperative that the post-Brexit immigration system allows construction firms to continue to hire workers of varying skill levels. We hope the government heeds the warning that these latest results show, before it is too late.”
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