Blog: Builders forced to down tools as Brexit bites again – The London Economic

Builders are being forced to down tools due to soaring material costs, potentially dealing a hammer blow to the UK’s economic recovery.

Despite promises by the government to “build back better” by “supporting economic growth through significant investment in infrastructure”, the construction industry is facing a barrage of issues that could derail the recovery.

Last week, housebuilder Berkeley warned there are continuous supply chain and labour shortages caused by Brexit and the pandemic, The Independent has reported. 

This is contributing to price rises for the industry, with materials now costing 20 per cent more.

And lorry driver shortages, which have been hitting supermarket supplies, are now also forcing smaller building firms, which account to 90 per cent of the industry, to pause their work.

Post-Brexit immigration system

Jonathan Portes, an economics professor at Kings College London, told the newspaper that the post-Brexit immigration system is one of the biggest issues constructions companies are dealing with when looking for skilled workers.

This is because workers, including Eastern Europeans, are self-employed, which means they are disadvantaged by the UK’s new rules.

Despite this, the business secretary rejected calls from the Federation of Master Builders to give EU lorry drivers temporary visas.

The construction industry is not the only one facing problems because of shortages.

McDonald’s milkshakes, children’s toys and IKEA mattresses are all reportedly in short supply.

During his show, Jeremy Vine giggled whilst discussing beer shortages, saying “Wetherspoons had to apologise to customers after they couldn’t get their supply of beer,” as pints of Carling and Coors dry up across its Brexiteer owner’s bars.

He then added: “Then the winemaker Hardy is saying he’s got problems with staff shortages, the barrels are dry.”

The TV presenter then concluded with flu jabs delays, tissues supplies and bed linen shortages causing trouble for hotels across the country. 

Lorry drivers

Around 100,000 truck drivers, previously made up primarily of Eastern Europeans, have left the government desperately trying to fill the vacancies because of post-Brexit rules.

But although transport minister Grant Shapps admitted the road freight sector faces “historic shortages” he said: “I do not support using foreign labour to tackle a long-standing issue in the haulage industry.”

Shapps insisting leaving the European Union has provided the UK with the “opportunity to introduce a new immigration system while building a more resilient domestic workforce”.

Among measures the government did take to tackle the shortages are the relaxation of tests for lorry drivers, as well as a “temporary extension” of drivers’ working hours.

Both measures have sparked fears over the safety of UK roads, but were hailed as a benefit from “increased post-Brexit sovereignty”, according to The Independent.

Related: ‘There are no deliveries because of Brexit,’ supermarket worker reveals

Romanian lorry driver reveals why Brexit means shortages

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