Industry is waiting on concrete details

Two construction workers with back to camera

Source: Shutterstock / Mavich Stock Man

Small and medium-sized construction firms need clarity around Brexit sooner rather than later, according to the Federation of Master Builders.

Responding to the release of the government’s Brexit White Paper, the FMB has stressed the need for certainty and stability and called on the government to clarify its approach to migrant workers as soon as possible.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Despite some pessimistic predictions, we’ve yet to seen any sign of the Brexit process having a seriously negative impact on the wider economy.

“However, for this to continue as we approach this critical phase of the process we now need to minimise the risk of uncertainty clouding people’s decision-making and spending plans and starting to feed through into the real economy.

“One area in which we now need greater clarity is over the shape of post-Brexit migration policy. For the many construction SMEs who are currently facing severe skills shortages the certainty they need is that access to skilled EU workers will not be drastically cut-off. We hope this will follow closely after the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee report in September.”

The white paper said businesses should be able to move “their talented people” from the UK to the European Union after Brexit.

Existing rules covering Irish citizens will be unchanged.

While the document emphasised a need to end the free movement of people in December 2020, it said it was necessary to recognise the “depth of the relationship and close ties between the peoples of the UK and the EU”.

Berry said the construction sector was more reliant than average on migrant workers from Europe given that 9% of construction workers are from the EU.

This figures rises to nearly a third in London.