Supply chain issues paint ‘worrying picture’ for builders


NINE in ten builders are facing rising costs, a recent state of trade study from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has found.

The FMB said that the findings paint a worrying picture that the UK Government ‘must’ address to ensure that builders do not face a ‘cliff-edge’ in the construction supply chain from January 2021.

The trade association added that after a busy summer, workloads are slowing. It attributed this to a combination of rising material prices and key shortages in timber, tiling, white goods and PVC windows and doors.

The latest findings from the FMB state of trade survey for Q3 2020 include:

  • 9 in 10 builders (87%) said material costs are rising, up from 8 in 10 (78%) in the summer
  • Only 4 in 10 builders (39%) reported a rise in workloads, down from 5 in 10 (47%) in Q2
  • Employment edged into positive territory for the first time since Q4 2019
  • However, 1 in 3 builders (29%) struggled to hire bricklayers, and 1 in 4 (25%) struggled to hire carpenters

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said, “Builders are facing significant material shortages and growing waiting times for the products they need. With the end of the Brexit transition period only weeks away, builders need confidence that they will not face delays at the ports and price hikes going into 2021. With 87% of builders forecasting material price hikes, recovery risks grinding to a halt if these issues are not resolved.

“In the face of rising unemployment and continued economic uncertainty, my members are reporting that homeowners are holding off planning home improvements next year. Builders in the new build and industrial or commercial sectors are also reporting contracting workloads. By investing in a long-term plan to green our existing homes, and by ramping up funding for local authority planning departments, the government can help support recovery and job retention in construction.”