Plummeting pound is pushing up material costs, warns FMB

Published:  02 August, 2016

Concerns over the rising costs of construction materials could be exacerbated by a weakening currency following the EU referendum result, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has warned.

The FMB’s State of Trade Survey results for Q2 2016 show that two-thirds of construction SME bosses predict material price inflation. Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Following the EU referendum, the plummeting value of sterling has further complicated an already difficult situation for small construction firms. Even prior to the referendum result, nearly two in three bosses were anticipating rising material costs, on which there has been intense pressure over the past couple of years, as demand for projects has picked up again.

“With the dramatic fall in currency value however, we’re concerned that the trend towards price inflation will gather pace. We’ve already heard accounts of timber and brick costs rising, and a number of sources have said that even steel prices have risen by 8% since the decision was made to leave the EU.”

Mr Berry said that, combined with the continuing skills shortages shown in the survey results, which puts upwards pressure on salaries and wages, the costs associated with running a small construction firm are on the rise. He believes that many are already operating on razor-thin margins and are forced to tender at prices which barely return a profit in order to remain competitive, and that this leaves little capacity to absorb dramatic price increases.

Mr Berry said: “It’s important to note that this survey was conducted prior to the referendum and shows that SMEs were consolidating their recovery, with demand in the private sector continuing to pick up. If this wavers, as suggested by recent ONS stats showing that the construction sector is now in recession, then the government must do everything in its power to reverse this situation and get Britain building again.”

The full report on the State of Trade Survey results can be found here.

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