FMB releases its latest State of Trade Survey results

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has published the results of its latest State of Trade Survey covering the first three months of 2022 and showing the impact of material and labour shortages, price rises and new regulations.

Pete Stemp - Senior Copywriter

Peter Stemp11.05.2022

The survey, which is conducted quarterly, focuses specifically on small and medium-sized (SME) organisations throughout the construction industry, including those in housebuilding, repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) and the industrial and commercial sector.

Workload changes

One of the key findings of the survey is that while the immediate outlook for the industry is positive, there are signs that the strong surge in work in 2021 may be slowing. For example, while 30% of those surveyed reported an increased workload in Q1 compared to Q4 of 2021, 15% said their workload had fallen. It is also not clear how the continued cost of living pressures and uncertainty will affect consumer confidence.

With regard to the specific sectors, the RMI sector is showing continued increases (net 27% of businesses reporting greater workload), while the commercial and industrial sector is not performing as strongly. Just a net 4% of those surveyed in this sector reported an increase in work.

Skills shortage

A significant proportion of the businesses surveyed reported continued difficulties in hiring carpenters/joiners (45%), bricklayers (40%) and general labourers (39%), with these figures remaining stable from 2021. These challenges have had real impacts on projects, with 55% saying a lack of skilled trades had delayed jobs and 11% stating it had led to jobs being cancelled.

Material price rises and shortages

Similarly, the cost and availability of materials has had an effect. Almost every business surveyed (98%) has experienced increases in the price of materials and 95% expect prices to increase further in the next quarter. 83% say they have had to increase what they charge to customers and the same number expect to increase prices to customers in the future. Availability is also an issue with almost three-quarters (73%) saying it has delayed jobs and 8% saying it has caused jobs to be cancelled.

Changes to regulations

Finally, the State of Trade Survey also asked about how prepared SME construction businesses are for the changes in the Building Regulations that come into force in June. Over half of respondents (52%) said they were not aware or not prepared for the updates. As the FMB’s report on findings outlines, there is an urgent need for education on the issue to prevent work being carried out that does not fully comply with the new regulations.

Within the findings of the FMB survey, there is much to feel positive about, however there are still many questions and uncertainties, especially with regard to the pressures exerted by the availability and cost of both labour and materials.

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