'Business as usual' for two thirds of SME housebuilders, says FMB

Published:  08 September, 2016

Two thirds of SME housebuilders 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 survey 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 housebuilders 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 housebuilders 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 housebuilders 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.”

Mr Berry advised that the industry should not paint an overly rosy picture of the situation facing SME housebuilders. 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, he said.

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, according to the FMB.

Mr Berry said: “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 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."

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