The construction industry is one of the sectors of the economy that will be directly affected by the continuing uncertainty over Brexit. The construction sector is also one that employs many self-employed tradespeople.
As the arguments rage over what type of Brexit would be acceptable, some things are now known and generally accepted as fact.
The construction industry is unusual in that it employs a high percentage of self-employed tradespeople, in Q3 2018 they represented 37% of the workforce. This value is almost three times the figure for the general workforce which is 13%. The self-employed are important to the economy as statistics from 2017 clearly show that for those in the construction industry they contributed £163 billion to the economy.
Another factor that means the construction industry is more likely to be affected by Brexit than other sectors is the fact that the sector heavily depends on migrant and foreign workers for many roles. Figures from the National Office of Statistics show that one-third of the construction workers on London’s construction sites came from overseas, while 28% of the workforce came from the EU. When free movement ends, the industry is concerned that it will face a skills shortage.
However, the EU is not just about the free movement of people, it is also about the free movement of goods between the countries within the EU. It is uncertain what will happen after Brexit. There could be a shortage of construction materials and thus a rise in prices, or suppliers could switch to using more local materials resulting in an increase in jobs.