Construction industry 'seriously affected' by Brexit uncertainty

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has blamed Brexit uncertainty for a slip fall in construction output.

The trade association’s statement comes as the latest construction PMI data showed a drop in output in March. 

The index posted a figure of 49.7 for the month.

While this was a fractional increase on the February figure (49.5), the index was still below the no-change threshold of 50.0.

This data represents the first back-to-back fall in construction output since 2016.

Sarah McMonagle, director of communications at the FMB, said: “The construction industry is being seriously affected by Brexit uncertainty as evidenced by two very worrying sets of results for construction output in the first quarter of 2019.

“Businesses have been waiting for politicians to come to some resolution for far too long now, and it’s time that this deadlock was broken.”

Sarah added that it was not surprising that employers were finding it hard to plan for the future when people didn’t even know when — or indeed if — Britain was leaving the EU.

“[The] results are a reminder of just how vulnerable the construction industry is to political turmoil as confidence among consumers and contractors continues to wobble,” she explained.

“Brexit uncertainty and the construction skills shortage have created a perfect storm in our industry.

“…We know from speaking to small construction employers that many of these skilled workers are starting to return, whether that’s because of strengthening economies elsewhere, or that they simply don’t feel welcome any more.

“This is compounding an already severe construction skills shortage, and I’m worried that the government’s post-Brexit immigration system will make it even worse.

“It’s quite simply not possible to build the homes and infrastructure we need without bricklayers, carpenters and plasterers.

“The government and industry must work together to attract more people into the industry by offering them high-quality training with clear career pathways for progression.”

The PMI study reported an upturn in the residential building sector, but commercial construction was the worst-performing area.


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