Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 24th June 2016
Britain’s exit from the European Union will leave the UK’s construction sector businesses facing unprecedented challenges over coming months and years, according to one leading figure within the industry.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), has highlighted the large extent to which construction companies employ workers from across the EU as a crucial issue with which the industry must now begin to grapple.
“The next few years will bring unprecedented challenges to the construction and house building sector, and it’s only through close collaboration between the government and industry that we’ll be able to overcome them,” he said in a statement after the British public voted to leave the EU.
Meanwhile, Monika Slowikowska, the founder of the construction company Green Houses Developments, reacted to the news of Britain’s EU referendum vote by expressing her fears that her industry could be very badly affected.
“House building companies’ shares are already down by as much as 40 per cent and bank shares are plunging. Property analysts are predicting an immediate slowdown in transactions,” she said.
Slowikowska also noted that the cost of labour in the UK construction sector has already been rising in recent months and suggested that by leaving the EU these costs could increase further by between 15 and 20 per cent.
Mark Robinson, chief executive of the Scape Group, a public sector built environment company, has called on the government to clarify what the position of non-British but European construction workers will be once the UK leaves the EU.
“We need to recruit a million workers into the industry by 2020, and putting EU migrants off coming here will only exacerbate this problem,” Robinson said.
“For the public sector and its supply chains to plan ahead as best they can, we need to know when and how migration and employment patterns will be affected,” he added.
Most business analysts are predicting that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will result in a period of significant economic uncertainty for the country.
Concerns about economic uncertainty could also be exacerbated by political instability, with prime minister David Cameron having announced in the wake of the Brexit vote that he intends to stand down from his position later this year.