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House building targets under Brexit threat to foreign labour supply

Access to labour is a continuing problem for the construction industry and may worsen if Britain leaves the European Union, according to a survey from Knight Frank. 

Some 56 per cent of construction firms say they are planning to recruit additional labour, according to the survey.

It then says: “Skilled workers from overseas have always made up a significant part of the construction sector, and this remains the case. There are concerns that a vote to leave the EU in June could ratchet up the pressure on skilled workers if the free movement of workforces between the UK to the EU is impaired. Luring former construction workers back to the sector and training younger entrants to the market is a key challenge, especially as the average age of workers in the sector is relatively high, exacerbating labour shortages as older workers start to retire.”

Elsewhere in the survey, Knight Frank quotes official housebuilding data released each quarter from Department for Communities and Local Government showing that some 152,440 new homes were completed across the UK in 2014/15 “and we estimate this will rise to around 172,000 in 2015/16.”

New quarterly data on English new-build completions show a 12 per cent rise in 2015/16 to just under 140,000. However, separate retrospective data published by the DCLG shows that 155,080 new homes were completed in 2014/15.

“This suggests that the quarterly data is underestimating total housebuilding across England” says Knight Frank.


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