Alarm bells for UK construction

The drop in EU net migration has sounded alarm bells for the UK construction industry, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said in response to figures recently published.

Commenting on the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report for August 2018, published by the Office for National Statistics, Sarah McMonagle, director of external affairs at the FMB, said: “EU net migration is at its lowest level since 2012 and this is deeply worry for those sectors that rely on workers from the EU.

“Despite the fact that we are still operating under the free movement of people, we’re already seeing far fewer EU workers coming to the UK and a greater number leaving our shores. This could be due to financial reasons since the depreciation of sterling following the EU referendum, which means that if these workers are sending money home, or saving up, their UK wages are now worth less.

“It could also, quite simply, be that some EU workers no longer feel welcome. The drop in EU net migration is a particular problem for industries like construction. At present, 9% of our construction workers are from the EU and therefore we are more reliant than most on these workers. In London, this proportion rises to nearly one third.

“We can’t afford to lose any more EU workers as currently two-thirds of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers and 60% are struggling to hire carpenters and joiners. If the government wants its new homes and infrastructure projects built, it needs to do more to back up our industry’s message to all EU workers – they are welcome and they do have a bright future here in the UK.”