19 December 2018
The National Federation of Builders (NFB) believes that leaving the EU without a deal would be more catastrophic for the construction industry than the financial crisis of 2008, when it lost more than 250,000 skilled workers.
On 18 December, the Government set aside £2 billion to step up preparations for leaving the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019. And cabinet ministers agreed that businesses should begin preparing their no-deal contingency plans. The Government will be sending 140,000 letters to businesses and put 3,500 troops on standby.
A no-deal Brexit would make life harder for SME house builders and regional contractors at a time when the country is suffering from an acute skills shortage and a chronic housing crisis.
The Government is also making the situation worse with its Immigration White Paper. The paper’s proposals would impose an annual salary threshold of £30,000 for immigrants in low-skilled trades, among which it includes construction. Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said:
“Construction businesses need stability and, with 100 days from Brexit, the Government seems to be working toward providing the exact opposite. A no-deal Brexit would not only make it harder for SME house builders to grow and prosper, but would make it impossible to build 800 homes a day and train the skilled workers of tomorrow.”
Monika Slowikowska, director of NFB member company Golden Homes, said:
“Telling businesses to prepare for no-deal while launching policies that would undermine construction, among other sectors, is setting the industry up to fail. The Government needs to work much harder to deliver a Brexit which provides certainty to business.”