Nearly three quarters of industry SMEs (74%) have backed a call for the government to spell out a long-term plan for greener homes.

The plea comes in response to falling demand for construction and retrofit work highlighted in the latest State of Trade Survey from the Federation of Master Builders.

The survey shows that growth in workloads, enquiries and employment levels are all continuing to contract, with enquiries dropping into negative territory for the first time since 2013, excluding the pandemic years.

“These findings come at a time of political uncertainty with building companies having to adapt without knowing what the immediate future holds, due to inconsistent economic policies,” says the organisation.

“The FMB warns that without clear political and economic direction, the industry will continue to face an uncertain future.

“Price rises are continuing to soar with 90% of builders experiencing material cost increases and 88% of respondents expecting prices to rise in the next quarter. Material shortages and difficulties finding skilled labour are still causing job delays for the majority of FMB members. Around 60% of builders have delayed jobs due to a lack of materials and 59% have delayed work due to a shortage of skilled tradespeople.”

The latest survey, for Q3 2022, also found:

• 62% of members have been impacted by a shortage of materials.

• 20% of members report an increase in the number of employees within their company’s workforce in Q3 2022.

• At least one third of members are struggling to recruit carpenters/joiners, bricklayers and general labourers (43%, 38%, and 34%).

• 90% reported an increase in material costs in Q3 2022.

• 88% expect material costs to increase in Q4 2022.

Chief Executive Brian Berry said: “The fall in builders’ workloads and enquiries to a level not seen since 2013, discounting the turbulent market during the Covid pandemic is a worrying signal about the future prospects for the building industry. They reflect the overall economic situation that the UK finds itself in.

“Small builders across the country need clear policies, and a degree of assurance so they can plan ahead. The current political uncertainly and its impact on the economy needs to be addressed quickly. Over 70% of members support a UK-wide retrofit strategy to make the existing housing stock more energy efficient. This is one of the best ways to boost both the economy and the industry, while also upgrading our homes in an energy efficient way.”
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