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Nine out of 10 builders struggling with shortages

October 25, 2021

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The latest state of trade survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) reveals a picture of skyrocketing material costs that are mostly passed on to customers.

97% of builders reported the rising price of materials as an issue, and they expect this to continue into the last quarter of 2021; 78% are passing this increased cost on to their customers, which for FMB members usually means homeowners and private landlords.

The FMB represents nearly 7,500 micro, small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms across the UK. Most operate in private sector repair, maintenance and improvement.

Builders have been forced to pause some jobs, waiting for able people to become available to help. Despite a slight easing, near half of FMB members are facing pressure to find carpenters/joiners and bricklayers; 42% say general labourers are in short supply and 37% cannot always get plasterers when they need them. (Those numbers were 36% and 31% respectively three months ago.)

While 89% of builders said that they have faced delays due to either materials or skills shortages, many are clearly suffering with both issues;  82% have paused work due to a lack of materials; 60% have pause due to a lack of skilled tradespeople.

8% of builders said that they had been forced to cancel jobs altogether due to a lack of materials, while 12% have cancelled jobs due to a lack of skilled tradespeople.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “Today’s FMB state of trade survey shows a damning situation for the building industry, with 89% of builders facing delays and some cancelling work altogether, due to a lack of materials or skills.

“The government should use tomorrow’s budget and spending review to tackle the growing skills gap. Effective efforts to help the haulage industry ease the supply of materials are also needed. This will help our members get back to building and help the post pandemic economic recovery.”

He concluded: “Our data shows the combination of long delays and rising prices mean consumers are also starting to feal the heat. Changing quotes, delays to jobs, and price hikes may lead to some homeowners being pulled in by unscrupulous builders hoping to make a quick buck. A good builder is a busy builder and it is important to be patient when selecting the right person for the job.”

References: The Construction Index

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