Construction sector growth could be a thing of the past

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The Government must act to avoid a growing and prosperous construction sector becoming a “distant memory”, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has warned following the publication of the latest figures issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

They show that the sector grew by 2.1% over the period September to November 2018 compared to the previous three months.

All the growth was due to new work, which increased by 3.4% over the period, with private new housing rising by 4.9% and infrastructure increasing by 6.5%. Over the three months concerned, repair and maintenance work declined by 0.4%.

Welcoming the 2.1% growth headline, the FMB’s Director of External Affairs, Sarah McMonagle, pointed out that it had been achieved “despite unparalleled levels of political uncertainty around the very real prospect of a ‘no-deal’ scenario”.

However, she urged the Government not to allow the results to create a false sense of security and, in particular, to avoid the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

The construction industry is extremely concerned about the Government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration system, Ms McMonagle explained, and especially about its plans for restricting the access of low-skilled workers to the UK.

“Most tradespeople will be defined as low-skilled and therefore will not be permitted to enter the UK, regardless of whether they are from the EU or further afield,” she explained.

It is crucial, Ms McMonagle added, that the Government introduces a post-Brexit immigration system that continues to allow the construction sector to draw on essential migrant workers — otherwise its house building and infrastructure targets will be totally unachievable.

The ONS statistical bulletin Construction Output in Great Britain: November 2018 can be found at www.ons.gov.uk.

Last reviewed 6 February 2019

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