Shortage of building materials has reached crisis level

Construction firms in West Midlands blame HS2 rail project for ‘creaming off’ valuable supplies

Construction clients of Hudson Contract say the lack of building materials has reached crisis level and has overtaken the skills shortage as the number one risk to the recovery of the sector.

We provide CIS tax and employment compliance to more than 2,500 construction SMEs across England and Wales.

They tell us the materials problem is most acute in the West Midlands where there is significant housebuilding activity and major infrastructure projects in Birmingham including new stations for high-speed rail and facilities for the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Ian Anfield, managing director, said: “Our clients are reporting serious shortages in construction products on the ground. In the West Midlands, some are saying their projects are now on 'tick over’ because materials are being creamed off by HS2.

“The government is proceeding with mega-projects and pushing forward shovel-ready schemes to ‘build back better’, the housing market is overheated due to the stamp duty holiday and demand for lumber is soaring around the world.

“Clients are telling us the materials crisis is outstripping the skills shortage as the main threat to their growth prospects.”

He said the industry needs radical solutions to address these problems, starting with a drive to promote local and regional supply chains in procurement.

Mr Anfield added: “This will benefit our domestic manufacturing industries for steel and construction products and create skilled jobs in left-behind communities across the country.

“At the moment, the UK is simply outsourcing carbon emissions to other parts of the world and this over-reliance on imports has made us hostage to events beyond our control.

“Local authorities should ditch large framework agreements with the main contractors and implement ‘buy local’ policies to build up local businesses and their suppliers.

“And instead of vilifying the self-employed, the construction industry establishment should champion these small-business owners as they are most likely to spend money in their local areas and generate meaningful training opportunities for young people.”