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Brexit and the construction industry

27/06/2016
On the 23rd June 2016 the UK went to polls to vote in the EU Referendum. The result of `Leave` (or Brexit) came as a surprise to many people and led to the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron.

But what happens now, and how will it affect the construction industry?

A survey by Smith & Williamson recently found that only 15% of construction executives favoured a UK exit from the European Union. A massive vote of confidence in favour of remaining part of the EU.

So what are the implications? Throughout the campaign much of the conversation between construction leaders has focussed around 3 main points;

Skills Shortage
The construction industry relies heavily on foreign migrant workers. At present 12% of British construction workforce are of non-UK origin. Being part of EU guarantees the right to free movement, and it is feared that being outside of the EU, with the possibility of limited of limited immigration, the skills shortage could worsen.

Trading of construction materials
A 2010 study by the Department for Business Skills and Innovation estimated that 64% of building materials were imported from the EU. 63% were exported. As Brexit is invoked importers and exporters may now face duties or limits on quantities, potentially leading to a shortage of materials or an increase in costs.

Funding
As members of the EU, the UK had access to the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund. These two institutions invested €7.8 billion in major infrastructure projects. Losing these revenue streams could have significant impact on projects such as HS2.

For the immediate future any potential changes will take a while to come into effect, and in truth we are in unknown territory. However, the construction industry need to act now to protect it’s investment in the future.

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