Shortage of bricks and bricklayers in UK could hamper new home building

Taylor Scott International News

The increasing shortages of bricks and bricklayers in the UK could threaten future house building plans, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). How to solve the current housing crisis is one of the hot topics in the run up to the general election with all parties pledging to build new homes. But the latest FMB state of the trade survey reveals shortages. Half of all small construction businesses, that’s one in two firms, are finding it difficult to recruit bricklayers and 62% of firms are waiting for up to two months for new brick orders while almost one quarter are waiting for up to four months. An additional 16% are waiting for six to eight months. ‘The brick manufacturers are working hard to reignite their kilns which were mothballed during the recession and the ever growing lack of bricklayers is causing concern,’ said Brian Berry, FMB chief executive. He pointed out that compared to this time one year ago, more than twice the firms are reporting difficulties recruiting these tradespeople. In the short term, many SME house builders may have to rely on migrant labour. ‘To ensure we have an ample supply of skilled workers in the future, the next Government must ensure it sets the right framework in terms of apprenticeship funding and apprenticeship standards,’ said Berry. ‘Also more construction firms, large and small, need to willingly engage with training. After all, there’s strong evidence to suggest that training apprentices is good for business,’ he added. The survey also shows that the private new housing market saw its net balance increase by 5% to +13. More businesses reported higher workloads while those indicating no change in workloads decreased to 49% from 62% in the fourth quarter of 2014. The net balance for total enquiries remained in positive territory for the eighth consecutive quarter as it jumped by 27% to +29. Fewer firms stated lower levels of enquiries, compared with the previous quarter, while more respondents reported a higher level of enquiries. The net balance for total expected workloads increased by 25% to +30. The percentage of businesses with negative expectations went down, to 15% from 24%, while those anticipating higher workloads saw a rise, from 29% to 45%. Around 40% of firms predict no change in workloads, down from 46% in the previous quarter. The residential sector’s net balance moved back into positive territory as it rose by 22% to +19. Some 32% are predicting higher workloads over the next three months, up from 18%, while fewer firms are anticipating lower workloads. The private new housing market’s net balance jumped by 24% to +30. The proportion of firms with positive expectations for workloads went up from 22% to 41%. In contrast, those anticipating lower workloads declined, to 11% from 17% in the previous quarter. Continue reading →

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