Trades shortage spell bad news for Government plans

With the housing white paper hot off the press, the spotlight is really on the nation’s builders.

With the government allocating a fund of £1.4 billion to new homes, there’s plenty to spend, but is there anyone available to spend it with?

The Federation of Master Builders have already reported a hike in workload, but are issuing a stark warning that an impending skills shortage could have a real impact on the government’s impressive house building plans, with half of small construction firms finding it difficult to hire roofers, electricians, plumbers and plasterers.

This is added to an already severe shortage of bricklayers and carpenters which has blighted British building for some time. However, this shortage of skilled tradespeople isn’t stopping the properties springing up. In the last quarter of 2016, the share of firms reporting an increase in workload increased to 30% (from 26% in the third quarter), with those experiencing a drop in workload fell to 15%, from 23%.

Of the 15 key trades and occupations we monitor, 40% show skills shortages at their highest point since we started to feel the effects of the skills crisis in 2013 when the industry bounced back post-downturn. This growing skills deficit is driving up costs for small firms and simultaneously adding to the pressure being felt by soaring material prices linked to the weaker pound. If the Government wants the objectives of its Housing White Paper to be realised, it will need to ensure the construction sector has the skilled workers it needs to build these new homes.​

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders

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