Brexit Briefing – The Challenges for Construction in the UK

Brexit Briefing – The Challenges for Construction in the UK

28th February 2019

As we approach Brexit, with most of us still clueless about what it’s going to be like and how it will affect use here in the UK (not just the construction industry, or industry in general, but every single person in the land), the uncertainty is overwhelming and the only sure thing we know is that Brexit is coming, and it’s coming fast!  This is an issue that affects the future for everybody in the UK and it would be useful to have some idea of what it’s going to be like, post-Brexit.  As the date for Britain to leave the EU draws inexorably closer, the co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has written to construction minister, Richard Harrington, imploring him to “fight for construction” as the deadline approaches.

Harrington is also a co-chair of the CLC with Andy Mitchell who has listed the construction industry’s greatest concerns ahead of the split from Europe, in the wake of last month’s summit of leaders from across the construction sector who looked at how our industry will cope with a no-deal Brexit, which is looking increasingly likely right now.

Mitchell claims that it is unlikely that all the potential negative impacts of a “no deal” Brexit can be alleviated and warned that “close collaboration and a spirit of cooperation” will be vital if we are to solve the unexpected challenges that face us as they occur.

Mitchell goes on to call for continued advocacy and support for the construction industry within government and for all ministers to adopt such an approach when dealing with our sector. 

According to Mitchell, the two major factors that had a sizable impact on the construction industry’s ability to prepare adequately for Brexit are both complex issues.  Firstly, the construction industry, by its very nature, has lengthy supply chains which comprise numerous small to medium enterprises (SMEs).  This resulted in clients, contracting companies and trade associations having limited information available and struggling to determine the potential impact of a no deal on individual companies.  Moreover, very few companies in the construction industry have the necessary resources and scale to allow them to invest in a substantial contingency plan to cope with Brexit.

As the deadline gets closer, the other key areas revealed by industry leaders as being of concern are as follows:

  • The construction industry here in the UK benefits from the presence of 160,000 EU nationals who currently work here in the UK.  This number represents a significant portion (13%) of the construction workforce in Britain, especially in London, where they comprise between 30% - 40% of construction workers.
  • Importing and exporting materials is likely to experience challenges initially, as is the regulatory regime for products in the future.
  • There is a real concern that any problems arising from these issues will cause further delays and an increase in costs in the completion of projects.

As the deadline looms and Brexit marches ever closer, here at Safety Fabrications, we’ll be keeping our finger on the pulse so that we can provide our readers with up to date information over the coming weeks and months.  If you don’t want to miss out on this, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.