Rising import costs and worker shortfalls threaten sector, says Scape report

The UK construction sector is facing a toxic mix of increasingly expensive building materials imported from the EU and the impact of a major skills ‘drought’, according to new research.

A report from procurement body Scape Group warns that, post-Brexit, the anticipated decline in construction workers migrating to the UK from Europe, together with the rapidly increasing price of imported construction materials could cost the sector millions.

Recent government data shows that 61.6% of imported building components and materials come from the EU, equating to a net total of £5.7bn, up from £4.9bn in 2015.

And since the government effectively ruled out the UK’s membership of the single market, the flow of migrant workers will likely be disrupted, Scape said.

“The skills crisis in construction is already at breaking point and [our] own research suggests a lack of workers with the necessary skillsets is negatively affecting the quality of projects, according to 85% of public sector managers,” it said in a statement.

Matt Carrington-Moore, chief marketing officer at Scape Group, said: “The construction sector is facing a toxic mix of issues which will inhibit its ability to deliver projects.

“All of the evidence suggests that Brexit could trigger a significant decline in this country’s construction sector, and the impact that this has on UK PLC would be significant.”