For more than 30 years, the FMB's State of Trade Survey has monitored key indicators and predicted future short-term developments in the UK construction industry. It is the only survey of its kind to focus exclusively on micro, small and medium-sized (SME) firms throughout the construction sector.
The reports main findings are:
- There has been a decrease in total workload, enquires and employment over Q4 of 2023, in all sectors being worked on by small builders, including repair, maintenance and improvement.
- 47% of FMB members reported a decrease in enquiries.
- Workloads were down 15% on Q3 2023 in the last quarter of year.
- Overall, difficulty in recruitment has slightly decreased, however over a quarter of members report a decrease in employees.
- 36% of members are struggling to hire carpenters with 34% struggling to hire bricklayers.
- Around a quarter of members reported problems hiring general labourers.
- Just under half of FMB members report that jobs are delayed because they are struggling to hire skilled workers.
Changes in prices and costs
- 63% of members report that material costs increased in Q4 2023, down from 71% in Q3.
- The impact of increased outgoings has led to 66% of members increasing the prices they charge, with just under half reporting that the business in on track to make a loss or fall below expected margins.
- 1 in 5 report that they are restricting hiring new staff as a consequence of increased outgoings.