Short Supply of Brickies Threatening Housebuilding Target

2nd February 2018. 

Back in the Autumn budget last year, the Government pledged to build 300,000 homes per year, but this is looking increasingly unattainable. The recent skills shortage in the sector, as well as the difficulty in finding land, are thought to be crucial problems. During a recent survey, only 12 percent had any confidence that the target could be achieved. Here at the Credit Protection Association, we hold a high number of members from the construction industry. The difficulty in finding skilled workers is the source of great concern for many of them, as many business owners have lost EU workers since the Brexit referendum. The sector may need to adapt to this reduction in skilled workers and embrace new technologies and concepts to survive without them.

The proportion of firms who are reporting a lack of skilled workers is at the highest level since 2007.

Lewis Johnston from industry body, RICS, demands more “radical action” from the Government such as the partial lifting of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap and giving councils the tools they need to build, including more access to funding and a pipeline of suitable land”.

“The fact that 60 percent of survey respondents cited labour shortages as a serious constraint to growth underlines the need to tackle skills shortages in construction, and move the sector towards higher-tech, less labour intensive production methods”, he added.

The construction targets have been set in an effort to boost supply, as a shortage of homes is one factor driving up prices in some areas of the UK.

A number of small- and medium-sized manufacturers have warned that a skills shortage could hold back production to its highest level since January 1989.

Alpesh Paleja of the CBI acknowledged the sector’s prior reliance on EU workers: “This skills shortage underlines the importance of establishing a future immigration system that provides companies with access to talent and labour.”

Mr Paleja called for the Government to scrap the net immigration target. He said it “has never been fit for purpose”.

Orders at small manufacturers have continued to grow sharply with 32 percent of firms saying they were more optimistic about the economy than three months ago.

Providing housing to consumers has become a lesser priority than it was a year ago. In part thanks to Brexit anxiety, people are more likely to stay in their current home than move somewhere new. Nevertheless, the sector is moving at a steady pace with business optimism more improved than a few months ago. The sector is still struggling with employment, with workers who are skilled in carpentry, or as an electrician or builder, difficult to come by. In response, the sector may have to adapt. Rather than a sector heavily reliant on labour, business owners may have to embrace new technology and allow automatons to complete tasks that humans cannot.

Here at the Credit Protection Association many of our members are business owners from the construction industry. If the sector is going to even try to reach the Government’s housebuilding target, changes may need to be made. Whether its embracing new technologies and concepts or just coming to CPA to free up your cash flow, while you keep up the search for sparkies, chippies or a brickie.

The Credit Protection Association is a credit management company established in 1914. If you supply goods or services on credit then we can help you!

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