Growth among construction SMEs continued, but slowed in most parts of the UK in the third quarter of this year, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Key results from the FMB’s latest State of Trade Survey, which is the only quarterly assessment of the UK-wide SME construction sector show that Q3 2017 was the 18th consecutive quarter of positive growth – which means that the UK’s construction SME sector has been growing for four and a half years (since Q2 2013).
However, the rate of growth has slowed with 41% of construction SMEs predict rising workloads in the coming three months, down from 48% in the previous quarter.
On the issue of materials, 82% of builders believe that material prices will rise in the next six months while the rport showed that skills shortagescontinue: 61% of construction SMEs reported that they are struggling to hire carpenters and joiners. 59% are struggling to hire bricklayers.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Material price hikes and skills shortages are putting the brakes on growth among the UK’s small building firms. Now that the General Election is well and truly behind us, it was our hope that consumer confidence would spring back and spur growth among small building firms in the third quarter of this year.”
Berry concluded: “Although the SME construction sector is still growing, the Government needs to keep a watchful eye on this slowdown in growth. Construction is a strategic industry and without it, the Government will be unable to build the homes, schools, hospitals, roads and railways it needs. We are urging the Housing Minister to turbo-charge the SME house building sector by fully implementing the proposals in the Government’s Housing White Paper which was published back in February. Eight months on, our sector is crying out for the very sensible proposals aimed at removing barriers to SMEs so we can once again get Britain building en masse.”