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SMP warns of construction labour shortage following Brexit

The decision to leave the European Union could result in a shortage of vital labour in the house-building market, the Society of Mortgage Professionals has warned.

As many as 12% of the workforce in the construction industry come from other EU states, but the SMP said the future ability to recruit from abroad is likely to be hampered by new post-Brexit immigration policies.

According to Lee Travis, the society’s head of professional development, this could lead to a shortage at a time when the construction sector most needs a pool of skilled labour to support a house-building revival.

He said: “We are in total agreement with The Federation of Master Builders (FMB), that the construction industry acts as a weather vane for the property market.

“They are saying that almost two thirds of smaller builders are struggling to find bricklayers and more than half are finding it hard to source enough carpenters and joiners.

“There is a huge skills shortage in the United Kingdom and the prospect of not having easy access to EU migrants post-Brexit could mean that this gap is set to widen. Ideally therefore, we would like to see some official assurance that EU workers will remain in the UK after the split.”

Meanwhile, with actual housebuilding figures consistently falling short of the government’s 250,000 a year target, the shortage of available housing across the UK is continuing to push prices upwards.

Travis added: “Although no-one can predict what the medium to long-term effects of Brexit will be, we cannot afford to lose momentum at such a crucial time for the UK housing market.

“The House of Lords economic affairs committee recently stated that we need to build as many as 300,000 homes each year to solve the current housing crisis. Any barrier to achieving that objective must be removed.”

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