Two Thirds SME Housebuilders Unaffected Brexit Says FMB

A recent study finds that almost 70% of small and medium-sized housebuilders have been unaffected by Brexit thus far.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) surveyed 108 small and medium-sized housebuilders and found that 69% of them have yet to observe any significant changes to their project pipelines as a result of the referendum results in June.

The poll – the first among SME housebuilders since the Brexit vote – revealed less than a quarter (22 per cent) of SMEs reported delays and only 10 per cent have seen projects terminated owing to the Brexit decision.

After taking EU withdrawal implications into account, almost 10% of SMEs saw plans move forward; meanwhile, almost 3% saw their initiatives advance or grow in scope. The results were gathered between August 1 and 24.

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

According to him, “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,” the overwhelming majority of SME housebuilders report that the referendum result has had no impact on their decisions yet.

“This echoes the perspective stated by many small construction enterprises that thus far, the market appears to suggest that it’s ‘business as usual’. Only one quarter of small housebuilders have noticed any negative effect on their projects following the Brexit decision, and most of them are the result of delayed decisions rather than outright project cancellations.”

However, according to the report, the construction impediments that existed previous to the June’s EU referendum are still impeding delivery.

More than half (55 percent) of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) said that the removal of red tape is the most important thing the UK government should ensure as part of the country’s exit from the EU.

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

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

“Brexit apart, we should not portray an excessively rosy image of the circumstances facing SME housebuilders,” added Berry.

“Given the ongoing housing crisis and the pressing need to empower smaller developers, May’s government must prioritise removing the barriers that existed prior to the referendum.”

“To this end, it’s worth noting that more than half of SME housebuilders think that the reduction of superfluous red tape should be the most essential concern for the new Government as they begin to negotiate the UK’s withdrawal 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.

In other words, the construction skills gap will get worse, and it will become a big problem when it comes to getting the housing and infrastructure projects we 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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