Two-thirds of SME house builders see no impact from Brexit

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A new survey shows the impact of Brexit has yet to be felt by SME house builders

New research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has revealed two-thirds of small and medium enterprise builders are yet to see any notable changes to their project pipeline following the Brexit vote.

The survey found 69 per cent of firms are yet to see any changes to their business, despite concerns in the run up to the referendum that there would be considerable difficulties if the UK voted to leave.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “SME house builders are crucial to achieving the Government’s ambition to build one million homes by 2020, so Ministers will no doubt be bolstered by these initial post-Brexit findings.

“Despite some fears that the referendum result might put new projects on hold, the overwhelming majority of SME house builders are reporting that no decisions have yet been influenced by the referendum result.

“This matches the view expressed by many small construction firms that so far, the market appears to suggest that it’s ‘business as usual’.

“Only one quarter of small house builders have seen any negative effect on their projects from the Brexit decision, and most of these are the result of delayed decisions rather than actual project cancellations.”

The survey is the first to involve SMEs since the referendum and reveals a positive picture of the situation. However, the FMB said there are still many obstacles facing the sector and warned this did not necessarily mean good news in the future.

Berry continued: “Brexit aside, we should not paint an overly rosy picture of the situation facing SME house builders.

“The barriers to building that existed prior to the referendum are still hindering delivery, and as the housing crisis continues to be a pressing concern, the need to empower smaller developers must be a priority for May’s Government.

“To this end, it’s worth noting that more than half of SME house builders state that the removal of unnecessary red tape should be the most important consideration for the new Government as they begin to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU.”

Berry concluded: “More than one fifth of SME house builders are demanding that the Government finds a way of ensuring a sufficient number of skilled tradespeople from the EU are still able to enter the UK.

“The Prime Minister insists that freedom of movement is now over and if this is not likely to be replaced by a points-based system – as reported this week – crucial sectors like the construction industry must be reassured that whatever system does replace it, it is flexible enough to respond to our needs.

“Otherwise, the construction skills shortage will be exacerbated and ultimately, it will become a major barrier to delivering the housing and infrastructure projects we so desperately need.”

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