Survey data shows Brexit uncertainty is growing

The Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey 2018 released by Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has revealed that the amount of work carried out by the construction industry on commercial and industrial projects failed to grow during the fourth quarter of 2018. It is the first time in six years that this has happened and is thought to be a reaction to Brexit uncertainty.

Jeffrey Matsu, the senior economist at RICS has stated that the uncertainty presented by Brexit is leading to a standstill in the commercial and industrial sectors. Additionally, he has pointed out that surveyors are reporting an increase in new hiring, while there is still availability of non-UK workers.

The survey shows that just 11% of firms saw workloads grow during the quarter, down from 20% in the previous quarter. 20% of those who contributed to the report saw a rise in building in the housing sector as well as a 14% increase in public housing, while non-housing building dropped by 8%.

Surveyors also reported an 18% increase in infrastructure activity, while rail and energy saw their sharpest increase in two years. Furthermore, 64% of those questioned felt that EU workers were not necessarily important to hiring requirements for surveyors and that education within the UK can ensure that current skills requirements were met.

However, Matsu has pointed out that EU nationals are an important factor when it comes to increasing capacity with a net increase in hiring over the next 12 months. He reiterates that access to EU workers to support future growth is as important as ever, despite the slow down in some sectors.