CPA economics director Noble Francis, said: “The key constraint to the CPA construction forecasts remains the cost and availability of imported products and skilled labour. The sharp recovery for both UK construction, and also in places such as the US, has led to sharp cost increases and extended lead times for some key products such as paints and varnishes, timber, roofing materials, copper and steel. This is of concern, particularly for SMEs, which account for 86% of construction employment.
“While larger contractors and housebuilders have greater certainty in their pipelines of work and are better able to plan and purchase in advance, SMEs often purchase what they need on the day at builders’ merchants. This makes them subject to greater issues if supply is limited or costs have risen significantly, particularly for firms working on fixed price contracts.
“On the labour side, some contractors are finding that there is currently a shortage of key skills in some key hotspots of activity, which has been exacerbated by the fall in EU construction labour by 42% over the past four years, according to the ONS.”