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EU labour is key concern for SME house builders

7 September 2016

The movement of labour and the hiring of skilled tradespeople are among the most pressing concerns post-Brexit for SME house builders, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) questioned 108 SME house builders in England following the result of the EU referendum in June and found that a fifth want the government to remove red tape and find a way of ensuring a sufficient number of skilled tradespeople from the EU are still able to enter the UK.

The survey – the first to be conducted in the sector since the EU referendum – found that 69% of firms were yet to see any changes to their businesses resulting from the referendum.

"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, we must be reassured that whatever replaces it is flexible enough to respond to our needs."

Brian Berry, FMB

Speaking about the results, 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 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’.”

He added: “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.”

Of those surveyed it was also found that 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.

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