Covid has dominated the scene over the last 12 months, but rising material costs, congestion at ports and product delays have also caused significant disruption. I don’t see that changing quickly. Leaving the EU has had an effect, but Brexit has been completely masked by Covid.
Companies who solely rely on material supply from Europe, compounded by issues at ports and delays and rising costs face the biggest risks. Going forward, UK manufacturing is vital, so we control our own supply chain and are less reliant on imports.
The supply of labour and skills shortages are significant issues that will affect housebuilders’ ability to meet Government’s housing targets. So it’s vital we attract new skills and talent into our industry. A positive from Covid is that construction never stopped, which may encourage people from sectors that haven’t been as fortunate. In turn, this will help boost our industry.
The key for construction is that the Government continues with its build programmes, particularly in infrastructure, and with house purchase initiatives to help get people on the ladder. The Government’s commitment to invest in a number of large infrastructure projects is also positive, and there’s a willingness from housing developers to meet Government targets and help tackle the shortage.
For our business, low carbon construction is a strong focus this year. With the built environment responsible for around 40% of the total carbon load we must all improve our carbon footprint. We’re also investing more in digitalisation to improve efficiencies, to make it easier for customers and our own functions to operate, and ultimately to ease pressure from skills shortages.
We’ll continue to manage Covid this year, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and getting back to some sort of normality will be welcomed!
All the BMBI Expert comments, along with additional insight and perspective from global insight agency GfK, the Builders Merchants Federation and MRA Research, can be viewed and downloaded here.
The full Leading Lights supplement can be viewed or downloaded from BMN’s website here.