Let There Be Light

Almost 70 per cent of small and medium-sized housebuilders have so far been unaffected by Brexit, new research reveals.

According to a survey of 108 SME housebuilders conducted by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), two thirds (69 per cent) of SMEs are yet to see any significant changes to their project pipelines following the result of June’s referendum.

The study – the first among SME housebuilders since the Brexit vote – found less than a quarter (22 per cent) of SMEs reported delays and only 10 per cent have seen projects cancelled due to the Brexit vote.

According to the results, which were collected between August 1-24, almost 10 per cent of SMEs saw schemes proceed after EU exit implications were considered, while almost three per cent were boosted with projects being brought forward or up-scaled.

And with SME housebuilders being crucial to achieving the Government’s target to build one million homes by 2020, Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, believes ministers will be bolstered by these post-Brexit findings.

“Despite some fears that the referendum result might put new projects on hold, the overwhelming majority of SME housebuilders are reporting that no decisions have yet been influenced by the referendum result,” he said.

“This matches the view expressed by many small construction firms that so far, the market appears to suggest that it’s ‘business as usual’. Only one quarter of small housebuilders have seen any negative effect on their projects from the Brexit decision, and most of these are the result of delayed decisions rather than actual project cancellations.”

However, according to the study, the building barriers that existed prior to the June’s EU referendum are still hindering delivery.

The removal of unnecessary regulation topped the poll with more than half (55 per cent) of SMEs believing this to be the most important factor for the UK Government to secure as part of the country’s departure from the EU.

Ensuring sufficient EU skilled tradespeople are still able to work in the UK came second with almost a fifth (22 per cent) of the vote.

Almost 14 per cent want assurances that material imports will remain tariff free, while around 10 per cent would like to see current EU investment in construction projects replaced or maintained.

“Brexit aside, we should not paint an overly rosy picture of the situation facing SME housebuilders,” said Berry.

“The barriers to building that existed prior to the referendum are still hindering delivery, and as the housing crisis continues to be a pressing concern, the need to empower smaller developers must be a priority for May’s Government.

“To this end, it’s worth noting that more than half of SME housebuilders state that the removal of unnecessary red tape should be the most important consideration for the new Government as they begin to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU.”

“The prime minister insists that freedom of movement is now over and if this is not likely to be replaced by a points-based system – as reported this week – crucial sectors like the construction industry must be reassured that whatever system does replace it, it is flexible enough to respond to our needs.

Otherwise, the construction skills shortage will be exacerbated and ultimately, it will become a major barrier to delivering the housing and infrastructure projects we so desperately need.

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Last Updated on December 29, 2021


Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

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