Anyone and everyone are all too aware of Brexit being shrouded in implications. Which incidentally, continues to be about as clear as dense fog. The construction industry is amongst those whose success depends heavily on market confidence. So is this on-going doubt affecting the industry sector? We assess this by looking into this marketplace’s four main influences: materials, labour, finance and regulations.
It is believed that around two thirds of construction materials are imported directly from the EU. Big problem. In fact, several big problems. Firstly the pound will become weaker which will result in higher costs for imported materials. Secondly, the UK risks losing cost free access to the single market. Not only that, we will face the burden of custom duties and allowance limits on the quantity of materials.
More positively however, it is thought that every sector in the industry from investors to contractors may be affected. In which case, each contingent is anticipated to be more motivated to work in collaboration in order to restrict such cost penalties.
This is possibly the biggest concern that Brexit potentially creates for the UK construction sector – the availability of workforce. The construction industry is extensively reliant on EU migrant workers for both skilled and non-skilled positions. It has been reported that there are currently not enough British workers to meet current industry demands. Departing from the EU will risk an even greater shortage of labour.
A lack of workforce could result in higher project charges as where demand outstrips supply the UK workers could insist upon higher wages. The government’s proposed one million new home strategy could be seriously hindered. This could result in a further decline of house building, leading to a more chronic housing crisis.
The government are proposing a replacement scheme, which consists of a new visa system. However this scheme will take time to install and involves complex procedures. Resulting in seriously deterring EU worker from working in the UK. Most unappealing for employees, when they could also choose to work in other visa-free European countries.
Not just the workers though, construction companies themselves would face lengthy and expensive procedures when employing foreign citizens.
Firstly, it’s important to realise that Brexit will not see the end of any trade relationship between the EU and the UK. All Brexiteers suggest that extensive guidelines and formalities combined with complicating processes to obtain regulations will vanish when the UK departs from the EU.
Whilst there are still uncertainties surrounding the actual deal that will be put in place, it’s thought likely that a new trade agreement will match the existing trading standards. The Great Repeal Bill confirms this as it strives to convert the applicable EU law directly into UK law.
To date, the UK has been one of the largest beneficiaries of EU funding. With the potential loss of funding on the horizon, existing future construction projects such as High Speed 2 and Crossrail could be in serious jeopardy.
Although that said, departing the EU could also open up other funding doors. In the UK saving the costs associated with contributing to the EU, any loss of funding could be re-balanced. Indeed, a weak pound could spell positivity for investors. However, the construction industry faces a challenge in presenting itself as an attractive preference for investment. Obviously putting the current political uncertainties dominating Brexit to one side.
What is certain is that uncertainty remains – even if the UK will not. What also remains certain is that the ER Group will remain. We continue our consistency in remaining as market leaders in legalities, funding, workforce and materials. With our extensive contacts, extreme product knowledge and trusty workforce, we will continue to source materials responsibly and effectively. Which leads us to deliver every single project undertaken on time. And let there be no uncertainty that we will continue to do so, whatever the outcome on 31st October 2019.