Shortage of bricks and bricklayers is threatening future housebuilding projects and hindering plans to get Britain building again, Federation of Master Builders warns
Its State of Trade survey showed that half of all of small and medium-sized construction businesses were finding difficulties recruiting bricklayers. It added that almost two-thirds of SMEs faced a two-month wait for new brick orders, with almost a quarter waiting for up to four months and 16pc facing a wait of between six and eight months.
Labour and the Conservatives outlined plans in their manifestos to build 200,000 homes a year to meet growing demand for housing and stem a rapid rise in house prices.The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to build 300,000 homes a year.
However, Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said the targets were unlikely to be met unless the next government did more to address skills and materials shortages, especially among smaller housebuilders.
Mr Berry said: “Solving the housing crisis has been one of the hot topics during this General Election campaign and we welcome the renewed focus on house building by all the main parties. Although each party has its own distinct plans for how the next Government should boost house building, all of them agree it must be a priority.
"The results of our latest survey expose continuing threats which could undermine their plans.”
Brick stocks fell to a record low of 323m last October, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). While stocks bounced back to 394m in February, this is far short of the 1.1 billion bricks that were available in 2008 when the number of completed homes was closer to 200,000.
Mr Berry said: "The brick manufacturers are working hard to reignite their kilns which were mothballed during the recession. However, in the meantime, let’s make sure small local house builders are not overlooked in favour of large house builders when it comes to manufacturers meeting requests for new bricks.
“In terms of skills, the ever-growing lack of bricklayers is causing concern. To ensure we have an ample supply of skilled workers in the future, the next Government must ensure it sets the right framework in terms of apprenticeship funding and apprenticeship standards."