Construction sector warns of post-Brexit homes shortage
The UK construction sector has delivered a collective message to the government warning that its targets for homebuilding are in danger of not being met because Brexit will lead to major shortages of skilled workers.
In an unprecedented move, seven industry bodies have come together to publish the Construction Industry Brexit Manifesto, which warns of a potential 'cliff edge' in labour supply if the UK is unable to access the skills of EU workers in the building industry.
The manifesto was backed by the Federation of Master Builders, the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, Build UK, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, the Construction Products Association, the National Federation of Builders, and the Home Builders Federation (HBF).
HBF director of external affairs John Slaughter said: "Companies are building on their existing investment through the successful work of the CITB-supported Home Building Skills Partnership and are committed to doing even more, but to deliver the national social and economic necessity of an improved housing supply we will also continue to need access to foreign workers under a manageable migration system."
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, acknowledged that the sector will have to "step up" and train more UK construction workers, but he added that after Brexit the rules for employing construction staff from the EU will need to be "fit for purpose".
Figures published by the government today (November 30th) have revealed net migration in the year to June was down to 230,000, 106,000 less than in the previous year.
The data revealed three-quarters of the change was due to falling EU immigration, suggesting that while some people are still coming to live in the UK from Europe, many have been put off coming.
At present, however, freedom of movement still applies and that has still tempted some EU workers to take up jobs in Britain, as well as coming for personal reasons. However, fewer have come for work reasons and since the referendum 82,000 EU citizens have left the UK.
While one year's statistics may not represent a trend, it may be the first sign that finding EU labour could be much harder in the future across the economy, including in construction.