Concerns centre on materials price hikes and staff shortages

More listed building firms have warned they could be faced with rises in costs and difficulties recruiting staff when the UK leaves the EU in less than two years’ time.

Last week, figures released showed that net migration – the difference between those entering and leaving the UK – fell 81,000 to 246,000 in the year to March 2017. More than half that change is due to a decrease in net migration of EU citizens, which is down 51,000.

In its interim results, property developer Henry Boot last week said: “The announcement of the UK exit from the European Union resulted in exchange rate fluctuations and material price inflation.

“As we move through the process we could see further price inflation, reduced market confidence, restrictions to the supply of labour and increased economic uncertainty.”

A day earlier, building materials firm CRH in its half year results stated that economic, social and political conditions, “which may be heightened by the uncertainty resulting from the outcome of the referendum in the UK to exit the European Union could include political unrest, currency disintegration, strikes, civil disturbance”.

The country’s biggest builder, Balfour Beatty, has already flagged concerns about access to overseas labour.

Announcing its half year results earlier this month, the firm warned: “In the UK, the decision to leave the European Union, the weakness of sterling and uncertainty around free movement are likely to reduce migrant labour at a time when a growing pipeline of major projects is likely to increase demand for skilled workers.”

Last month, a group of MPs warned that Brexit could prove “disastrous” for construction unless transitional arrangements allow the industry to draw on EU workers while it skills up a domestic workforce.

Earlier this week, the third round of Brexit talks between the UK and EU resumed with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier expressing concern about progress so far.

He warned that UK “ambiguity” must be removed and progress on “separation” issues made before any talks on the future EU-UK relationship.