The first three months of 2021 saw enquiries with local building firms across the UK increase at their fastest rate in a decade, fuelling significant difficulties with construction material shortages, according to new data from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Cymru.

The latest FMB State of Trade Survey for Q1 2021 the only survey of its kind to track the experience of small to medium-sized (SME) construction firms in the UK, found:


  • Workloads, enquiries and employment all grew in the period January to March 2021, with enquiries growing at their fastest pace in more than 10 years
  • Activity in all sectors grew, but repair, maintenance and improvement saw the strongest performance with 55% of respondents reporting increased workloads
  • Findings indicate that workloads and enquiries for builders in Wales outperformed the rest of the home nations, and rose at a faster pace than in Q4 2020


  • 38% of builders are struggling to hire bricklayers, up from 22% in Q4 2020
  • 34% are struggling to hire carpenters/joiners, up from 23% in Q4 2020


  • 93% of builders said that material prices were rising

Ifan Glyn, Director of the FMB Cymru, said: “Builders in Wales are reporting soaring workloads and enquiries, which is positive news after a difficult year for business. In the first quarter of the FMB’s 80th year, it is pleasing to see enquiries across the UK grow at their fastest rate in more than a decade. However, this recovery risks being hindered by a shortage of construction products, as 93% of builders reported material price increases in the first quarter of the year.”

Glyn concluded: “The next Welsh Government must work with the industry to maximise the positive impact that construction can have on our economic recovery and providing jobs as the lockdown lifts. With the construction skills shortage becoming more acute, the next Government should encourage more people into the industry by improving the image of apprenticeships and increasing funding for construction vocational education.”

Notes to editors

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry representing thousands of firms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Established in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms, the FMB is independent and non-profit making, lobbying for members’ interests at both the national and local level.

The FMB is a source of knowledge, professional advice and support for its members, providing a range of modern and relevant business building services to help them succeed. The FMB is committed to raising quality in the construction industry and offers a free Find a Builder service to consumers. 


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