UK construction and property
- Major issues | The Construction Industry Training Board has criticised the Government’s lack of decision-making on major issues such as the UKCA mark (which was removed for construction machinery, but not products), net zero pathways, and HS2.
- Work expectations | The RIBA’s Future Trends survey has found a growing gap in confidence between smaller and larger firms, with larger practices generally more optimistic about workload and workforce growth. The stalling housing market is weighing on smaller companies. Overall, 18% of practices expect workloads to increase over the next three months, and 29% expect them to fall.
- Brickwork | The Association of Brickwork Contractors has launched a new qualification for brickwork technicians. Currently, bricklayers operate under a labourer’s card, but contractors felt that the complexity and importance of their role (particularly for fire barriers and masonry support systems) necessitates a career path and professional qualification.
- Immigration | A specialist employment lawyer is reported (by The Construction Index) to have criticised the expansion of the Shortage Occupation List to include roofers, bricklayers, and carpenters. Angela Barnes at After-Athena commented that increases in visa fees and a “myriad” of other hurdles and fees discourage UK businesses from recruiting from overseas.
- Pay | Building engineering services workers have agreed to a 7% pay rise as part of a two-year deal which will see a further increase of 3% in October 2024.
- Water pollution | Severn Trent plans to raise £1 billion through an issue of new shares to support plans for new infrastructure to reduce leaks and pollution. The group plans to spend £12.9bn across the next five years and create 7,000 jobs. The main water and sewerage companies will submit their spending plans to Ofwat for 2025-2030 today.
- HS2 | Speculation increased around the future of some phases of HS2 as senior Conservative members refused to comment on possible cuts. Recent Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Theresa May publicly warned against cancelling the northern leg of the line.
- Housebuilding | Work started on 76,600 new homes in Q2 2023, a 34% increase when compared to the same period last year, and the highest quarterly total since records began in 1978. The rally is thought to be caused by pressure to start before new carbon emission rules come into force. Capital Economics expects new starts to drop to 15,000 in Q3.