Two thirds of SME house builders are yet to see any significant changes to their project pipelines in the wake of Brexit, new research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has revealed.
The FMB survey – which is the first to be conducted among SME house builders since the EU referendum – found that 69% of firms are yet to see any changes to their businesses resulting from the referendum.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “SME house builders are crucial to achieving the government’s ambition to build one million homes by 2020, so Ministers will no doubt be bolstered by these initial post-Brexit findings. Despite some fears that the referendum result might put new projects on hold, the overwhelming majority of SME house builders are reporting that no decisions have yet been influenced by the referendum result.
“This matches the view expressed by many small construction firms that so far, the market appears to suggest that it’s ‘business as usual’. Only one quarter of small house builders have seen any negative effect on their projects from the Brexit decision, and most of these are the result of delayed decisions rather than actual project cancellations.
“Brexit aside, we should not paint an overly rosy picture of the situation facing SME house builders. The barriers to building that existed prior to the referendum are still hindering delivery, and as the housing crisis continues to be a pressing concern, the need to empower smaller developers must be a priority for May’s government. To this end, it’s worth noting that more than half of SME house builders state that the removal of unnecessary red tape should be the most important consideration for the new government as they begin to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU.”
Mr Berry concluded: “More than one fifth of SME house builders are demanding that the government finds a way of ensuring a sufficient number of skilled tradespeople from the EU are still able to enter the UK. The Prime Minister insists that freedom of movement is now over and if this is not likely to be replaced by a points-based system – as reported this week – crucial sectors like the construction industry must be reassured that whatever system does replace it, it is flexible enough to respond to our needs. Otherwise, the construction skills shortage will be exacerbated and ultimately, it will become a major barrier to delivering the housing and infrastructure projects we so desperately need.”