Freelance Builder Pay Trends: September 2021

Freelance Builder Pay Trends: September 2021

21st October 2021 | Hudson Contract

Labour rates for London and North West rise for third month in a row

The cost of skilled labour in the construction industry has risen for the third consecutive month in London and the North West, according to our latest analysis of pay trends.

Average weekly earnings for self-employed tradespeople in London increased by 1.8 per cent to £938 during September while in the North West, earnings increased by 3.3 per cent to £887.


Ian Anfield, managing director, said: “We estimate that through Covid the industry has been short of as many as 140,000 tradespeople, or 10 per cent down on where we could have been, which has helped drive up labour rates in the face of high demand. Our latest pay trends suggest London and the North West are becoming pinch points for this skills shortage.

Skills shortages – once an acute regional problem – have been exacerbated across the country by the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Official statistics show construction workers claimed grants worth £966m in the last round of SEISS, which covered the period to September 15 2021. This followed earlier claims of £3.1bn in the period to July 31 2020, £2.4bn in the period to October 31 2020, £2.3bn in the period to December 31 2020 and £2.2bn in the period to June 6 2021. In total, the sector appears to have claimed grants worth nearly £11bn through the scheme.

Anfield added: “The industry only suffered a two-week lockdown in March 2020 and were it not for labour shortages and material supply blockages it would have fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels fairly soon after.

“The housing market is still strong and households continue to spend on extensions and improvements instead of holidays. As SEISS ends, many people will return to work but because huge infrastructure projects such as Hinkley Point and HS2 are in full swing, government departments have accelerated ‘shovel-ready’ projects and the ongoing housing and domestic work, demand will continue to outstrip supply.  

“Materials shortages continue to be a challenge for building firms. Clients are telling us that supply problems have moved from timber, where prices are still high but they can get what they need, to plastics products such as polypropylene pipes, which in some builders’ merchants are out of stock.”


Region September 2021 Average Month on Month % Change Year on Year % Change
North East £782 -2.9% 4.8% 
North West £887 3.3% 1.7% 
Yorkshire & Humber £805 -4.1% -1.6% 
East Midlands £1,012 -1.0% 18.8% 
West Midlands £917 -4.9% 1.2% 
Wales £932 0.3% 5.5% 
East of England £983 -1.0% 3.6% 
London £938 1.8% 10.1% 
South East £937 -3.4% -0.7% 
South West £849 -5.4% 1.6% 

To view our interactive pay trends map click here

Average earnings across all regions dipped by 1.7 per cent to £913 last month. Year on year, earnings increased by 4.7 per cent.

Hudson delivers the most accurate indication of subcontractor pay trends across the construction industry, publishing the average pay for a spectrum of 17 different trades split across 10 regions in England and Wales. It supplies statistics to the Bank of England to keep policymakers updated with real-time insights on demand for skilled labour.

Hudson Contract’s ‘Window on the Construction Industry’ gives you hard figures and data that is not available from any other source, with pay averages that reflect the amounts paid by a sample number of businesses – large and small – to specific trades during 2021.

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