Freelance Builder Pay Trends: May 2022

Subbies best placed to handle cost of living crisis but government needs to rethink tax rises

Labour rates grew by 2.8 per cent last month as in-demand self-employed subcontractors continued to boost their earnings, according to our analysis of the construction industry’s biggest payroll. Average weekly earnings increased to £918 during May.

Ian Anfield, managing director of Hudson Contract, said: “Earnings for the self-employed increased last month, meaning they are more able than employees to keep pace with the rising cost of living. Even if things level off in the next few months and rate inflation flattens, the self-employed have the options to take on more work or achieve more output to increase their income. In contrast, the directly employed are reliant on annual pay deals negotiated by unions with whom most of them have no membership or relationship with.”

Last month, average earnings increased in all regions of England and Wales bar the North East. Our best-performing trades were equipment and operator hire (+11.9 per cent), steel and timber frame (+6.1 per cent) and civil engineering (+5.1 per cent).

Ian added: “None of our clients are telling us they are struggling for work but quite a few are telling us there are fewer tenders coming through the door. Some larger groundworks contractors are spreading their influence into new regions, particularly with Midlands contractors moving north. It could be a sign that a bit of the heat is coming out of the market in some parts of the country.

“For the last two or three years, the construction industry has been incredibly resilient in dealing with inflation linked to Brexit, the pandemic and problems in the Suez Canal blocking up the supply chain for materials. It’s a real shame the government, which says construction is the foundation of the economy, has chosen to slap huge tax rises on the industry by ending the red diesel rebate and introducing a VAT reverse charge. Inflation is now big news because it is hitting households and it will be even bigger news if the tax rises start to impact housebuilders – the foundation of the economy can only carry so much.”

Region May 2022 Average Month on Month % Change Year on Year % Change
North East £673 -0.1% 0.3% 
North West £883 2.8% 6.8% 
Yorkshire & Humber £865 0.1% 5.4% 
East Midlands £955 3.5% 0.1% 
West Midlands £916 0.8% -0.4% 
Wales £879 8.3% -0.9% 
East of England £996 4.5% 5.0% 
London £973 3.8% 9.9% 
South East £972 5.3% 5.3% 
South West £920 0.8% 6.6% 

To view our interactive pay trends map click here

Hudson Contract is the UK’s largest provider of tax status and employment contract services to the construction industry with annual revenues approaching £1.8 billion and a client base of 2,500 construction SMEs.

We deliver 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. We also supply statistics to the Bank of England to keep policymakers updated with what’s happening on building sites.

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