Since 11 pm on January 31st, 2020, when the United Kingdom officially left the European Union, construction agencies have faced many challenges, leading to long delays in the completion of projects. To learn more about how Brexit has affected the construction industry, carry on reading.
Movement of Goods
Before Brexit, the UK benefited from the EU’s policy on the movement of goods between member states, making transportation straightforward. Now, UK-based construction firms have new forms and contracts to complete before they can import materials, which takes time to navigate and inevitably results in project delays and added expenses. With sources revealing that in 2019, imports outweighed exports by 50%, this will only become a more widespread and costly issue. Construction companies will have to be much more flexible when creating project timelines, which forces them to rethink their current processes.
Another issue that Brexit presents for the construction industry lies within product marking. The UK and Europe no longer share their product markers, so there are 3 different product marks that manufacturers, and other producers in the supply chain, must apply depending on where their items will be used. These are:
- A UK (NI) mark, which equals the United Kingdom Northern Ireland mark.
- A UKCA mark, which signifies the United Kingdom Conformity Assessed mark.
- A CE mark, which represents the EU’s mark for product conformity.
These three marks are expected to narrow the supply choice and increase overheads for manufacturers, who will have to spend more time and money ensuring the right marks are visibly attached to their products. This includes test certificates, product labels, and in some cases, on the product itself. The mark also has to be accompanied by a Factory Production Control (FPC) certificate and a Declaration of Performance (DoP). All of this means products may take longer to be delivered to ensure stock is marked accordingly.
Not only is there a significant shortage of haulier drivers to transport materials, but the shortage of EU workers in the UK construction industry means companies are experiencing project delays too. According to the Office for National Statistics, employment in the construction sector fell from 2.3m in 2017 to 2.1m at the end of 2020, representing a 42% fall in EU workers and a 4% fall in UK-born workers.
However, the labour shortage has been a growing concern within construction for some time, with more than 500,000 UK-born construction workers expected to retire in the next 10 to 15 years. In 2018, the ONS revealed that between 1991 and 2011, there was a 13% increase in the numbers of workers aged 45 years and over in the construction industry. However, non-UK nationals are younger (18% aged 45 years and older) compared to UK nationals (47% aged 45 years and older).
What’s more, there has been a decline in the number of new applicants, with Go Construct reporting a 16% decline in the number of applicants between December and May 2021.
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