The construction sector has reacted to the latest output figures posted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The latest monthly commentary regarding activity in the industry has revealed that, for the three months to April 2018, there has been a decline of 3.4% – the largest recorded since August 2012.
In the monthly series however, the three-month pattern of decline has been arrested, with construction output increasing by 0.5% in April, when compared with March.
It reveals a level of uncertainty in the industry and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) believe that Brexit is one of the defining factors.
It’s Chief Executive, Brian Berry, believes there are a number of factors causing output to fall; one of these is the rise in wages to employ those whose skills are hard to come by. As such, he believes the access to the EU market of employees must be clarified.
He said: “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.
“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.”