Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Yourviews - Brian Berry Chief ex­ec­u­tive FMB

THE UK con­struc­tion sec­tor de­clined by 3.4% in the three months from Fe­bru­ary to April com­pared with the pre­vi­ous three months. This is the big­gest fall since the lat­ter stages of the re­ces­sion in Au­gust 2012.

The Beast From The East has cer­tainly played its part as it forced many con­struc­tion sites to close in March.

In­deed, builders were re­port­ing that it was too cold to lay bricks.

Along­side the cold snap, the drop in con­struc­tion out­put can also be at­trib­uted to ris­ing costs for con­struc­tion firms large and small.

While wages are con­tin­u­ing to rise be­cause of the acute skills cri­sis in our sec­tor, firms are also feel­ing the pinch thanks to in­creased ma­te­rial prices.

The de­pre­ci­a­tion of ster­ling fol­low­ing the EU ref­er­en­dum has meant bricks and in­su­la­tion in par­tic­u­lar have be­come more ex­pen­sive.

We expect ma­te­rial prices to con­tinue to squeeze the con­struc­tion in­dus­try with re­cent re­search by the Fed­er­a­tion Of Mas­ter Builders show­ing that 84% of builders be­lieve that they will con­tinue to rise in the next six months.

In the medium to longer term, with nine months un­til Brexit-Day, the fu­ture is un­cer­tain for the UK con­struc­tion sec­tor. The Gov­ern­ment is still to con­firm what the post-Brexit im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem will look like.

The con­struc­tion sec­tor is largely re­liant on ac­cess­ing EU workers with more than 8% of con­struc­tion workers com­ing from the EU.

It is there­fore im­per­a­tive that the sec­tor knows how, and to what ex­tent, it can re­cruit these workers post-Brexit.

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