The Federation of Master Builders

Scottish Builders Remain Resilient Despite Uncertainty says FMB

Published date: 30 October 2019

Scottish SME construction companies remained resilient in the third quarter of 2019 despite continued uncertainty around Brexit and a potential second independence referendum according to FMB Scotland.

Key results from the FMB’s latest State of Trade Survey, which is the only quarterly assessment of the UK-wide SME construction sector, include:

  • Scottish construction SME workloads remained positive in Q3 2019 but fell slightly on the previous quarter;
  • Carpenters overtake bricklayers as the trade in shortest supply with over half (56%) of construction SMEs struggling to hire carpenters and joiners and 54% struggling to hire bricklayers;
  • 86% of builders anticipate that material prices will rise further in the next six months, slightly up from 77% in Q2 2019;
  • 56% of SME construction companies expect higher salaries and wages over the next 6 months up from 51% on the previous quarter

FMB Scotland Director said:

“Scottish SME construction companies have remained remarkably resilient despite ongoing political and economic uncertainty and skyrocketing material prices. Builders across Scotland are busy and have seen consumer confidence remain robust.”

“However, the costs Scottish builders are facing are escalating. Rising material costs have been a thorn in the side of many construction SMEs over the last few years and these are set to rise with 86% of builders predicting material price rises over the next 6 months. Brexit uncertainty hasn’t helped with this, as approximately 60% of the UK’s building material imports come from the EU - with a particular reliance in Scotland on imported timber for housebuilding.”

“Skill shortages also continue to thwart the growth ambitions of many Scottish SMEs. Over half of SME construction companies are struggling to find sufficiently skilled carpenters and bricklayers. As a result, the wages for these increasingly scarce skilled trades continue to rise sharply. It is therefore not surprising to see that 56% of firms expect wages to increase over the next 6 months. Whilst this is great news for employees, it will undoubtedly squeeze margins and pump up the pressure on the bosses of our construction SMEs” 

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