Labour availability is a growing problem that will affect both construction growth and prices. This is illustrated by the reported problems that Bovis encountered in trying to accelerate the numbers of homes that they delivered in 2016. Bovis blamed availability of sufficiently skilled labour for delayed delivery and faulty workmanship and they have lowered their delivery target for this year as a result.


The May 2017 RICS UK Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey reported that skill shortages are still cited as a significant problem, with 53% of respondents stating a shortage of skilled labour to be a key impediment to growth in construction output.

Sufficiently skilled labour

The Farmer report on construction labour* suggested that we need to double the workforce in housing to deliver 250,000 homes per annum.

According to the Construction Products Association (CPA)** a balance of 13% of contractors experienced difficulty in securing site trades in general in the 4th quarter of 2016. On balance, 40% of contractors reported difficulty in recruiting bricklayers; 71% for carpenters and 67% for plasterers.

The BCIS forecast*** is for construction output to rise 13% over the next five years while uncertainty over availability will push up labour costs by over 20%. Any restriction in the availability of EU labour following Brexit negotiations is expected to cause labour costs to rise faster

* The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model, published by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), October 2016.

** Construction Products Association, Construction Trade Survey. Balance is the difference between those reporting difficulty and those reporting no difficulty.

*** BCIS forecasts published in the BCIS Online service

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