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Freelance Builder Pay Trends: March 2018

Hudson Contract delivers the most accurate indications of pay trends across the construction industry, using payroll data for over 2,200 construction companies to publish the average pay for a spectrum of 17 different trades now split across ten regions.

As predicted, the Beast from the East has bitten a chunk out of freelance builder earnings in February.  Thousands of sites across the country were frozen for the last week of the month, impacted by arctic temperatures, travel chaos and Britain’s inability to deal with snow.

“Having said that, it could have been worse,” comments Hudson Contract Managing Director Ian Anfield.  “Even in the South-West, where earnings have been most seriously affected, to be down only 6.7% per cent – £45 a week – isn’t so bad.  The weather warnings were issued well in advance, and in many cases the freelancers were able to put in extra hours before and after the weather turned.  As always, that’s the huge advantage of using labour-only subbies – the flexibility to put in extra hours ahead of a foreseeable event like the Beast, and avoiding the expense of having to stand down your employees when weather forces everyone to stop work.”

National Weekly Average Earnings March 2018: £832
Region March 2018 Average Change from February 2018
North East £705.00 -1.70%
North West £736.00 -4.08%
Yorkshire & Humber £766.00 -4.31%
East Midlands £860.00 -5.70%
West Midlands £891.00 -3.93%
Wales £765.00 +2.35%
East of England £894.00 -3.13%
London £834.00 -4.68%
South East £824.00 -4.98%
South West £746.00 -6.70%

To view our interactive pay trends map click here

Despite the weather, some trades nevertheless managed to increase their earnings:

  • Plastering: +3.41%
    London plasterers doing particularly well
  • Shopfitting: +0.97%
    Retail on the rise in the West Midlands
  • Electrical: +0.72%
    Wales keeping busy

The biggest losers:

  • Steel & Timber Frame Erection: -14.44%
    London grinds to a snowy halt
  • Insulation: -7.29% 
    Feeling the chill in the North-West
  • Demolition & Wrecking: -6.76% 
    Earnings crash in the South-East

Turning to the national picture, construction output plummeted more steeply than at any time since the EU referendum in June 2016, according to the latest CIPS/IHS Markit UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index which dropped below the no-change threshold of 50 to 47 last month due to the weather and “woefully unprepared” supply chains.

“The general feeling in the industry is that this is just a small road bump, and everyone will bounce back once Spring is properly underway,” Ian Anfield says.  “Confidence is also high among those in the M&E sector, which is really positive news, given Carillion’s collapse.  And at least the problem of late payment, which forces the closure of at least 50,000 businesses a year, is now coming under official government scrutiny.  Payment abuse is a key issue in construction and a major change – such as putting cash retentions in trust, which is now being mooted – would boost the sector overnight.”

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 March 2018.

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