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Government Urged to Continue Construction Projects

Despite the political uncertainty generated by Brexit, UK construction firms have urged the government to carry on with important infrastructure, housing, and skills development projects.

Scottish house builders assert that the construction industry’s ability to offer long-term employment depends on the government’s ongoing support for labour-intensive projects.

The Scottish Building Federation (SBF) delivered this message when its most recent quarterly survey revealed that last week;s Brexit vote left Scottish construction firms at their lowest confidence levels in three years.

Sixty-five construction firms throughout the country were surveyed by the Scottish Construction Monitor. When members were allowed to update their opinions after the referendum, it dropped to -19, which is a 22-point decrease.

The survey suggests that confidence across the industry has been deteriorating over the past year. The peak reading of +35 in the second quarter of last year went down to +3 in the first quarter of 2016 before sliding even more as Brexit approached.

This is the first time that a negative confidence rating among construction employers has been recorded by the Scottish Construction Monitor since the second quarter of 2013.


Specialists in Construction Insurance

The findings were announced after an early survey concluded that one out of three SBF members stated that a vote to leave the EU would have a detrimental effect on their trade.

SBF managing director Vaughan Hart said that the outlook among construction firms in Scotland had gone up somewhat during the week as markets started to stabilise in the wake of Brexit. Mr Hart said that the mood was now one of caution, with many builders saying that they intended to cease plans to invest and engage apprentices.

He added that ongoing government investment in large projects was necessary to keep employment levels steady. The number of construction apprentices remains lower than it was prior to the 2008 crash.

Apprentice number peaked in 2007 at 2,700 before falling to 1000 at the recession’s height. It is hoped that the numbers climb to 1,600 this year, but Mr Hart said that the withdrawal of the UK from the EU could result in government “paralysis”.

He expressed concerns that lowered apprenticeship recruitment could be a huge step back that the industry can ill-afford to take. Mr Hart urged the government to focus on undertakings that will enable construction businesses to grow and keep sight of both investment in housing and employee training and development.

The most important thing to many SBF members is projects that will translate to sustainable employment. Acknowledging that many financial institutions plan to shift operation abroad as a result of the EU referendum, Mr Hart insisted that no one should lose sight of the projects currently being worked on, as well as any objectives the government had before the Brexit vote.

Urging people not to panic, he said that the important thing is to take stock of where the industry is currently at and then proceed to move forward in a controlled and proper way.


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