Builders are more optimistic for their businesses this year following the so-called ‘Boris bounce’, according to a new survey by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The FMB’s State of Trade Survey for the quarter ending December 2019 revealed that 37% of builders are predicting higher workloads over the coming three months.
Boris Johnson’s General Election victory in December 2019 has been credited with UK house prices increasing in recent weeks, and the so-called ‘Boris bounce’ could be spreading to builders.
Growing uncertainty over Brexit had previously been associated by over 40% of tradespeople to slower business growth, and by one third of self builders, renovators and extenders who cancelled their home improvement plans.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Builders are more optimistic for the for the future, with over a third of small to medium-sized (SME) construction workers predicting higher workloads over the coming three months. We are yet to see if there has been a so-called ‘Boris bounce’ yet, following the election result, but there are some positive signs.”
One of these positive signs was employment activity increasing for the first time since early-2019, with 19% of builders reporting increased staffing levels.
Looking to the Future
The survey also revealed that workloads for small building companies fell between October-December 2019, with roughly 21% of firms reporting reduced workloads. This was 5% higher than the previous quarter ending September 2019.
Northern Ireland was the only UK nation to experience an increase in workloads and enquiries.
“The end of 2019 was a very turbulent period in the UK, both politically and economically, with Brexit gridlock and a General Election. When you consider this, along with the bad weather we saw in October, it is not surprising that the order books of small and medium-sized construction firms took a hit,” said Berry,
“We know that many consumers were holding off making important spending decisions until the outcome of the General Election was known and this took its toll on workloads”.
The FMB anticipates material and wage costs to rise the next six months, but Berry is optimistic that the first post-Brexit Budget due in early March will provide an opportunity to restore confidence into the construction industry.
“Builders will be instrumental in delivering key government objectives such as 300,000 new homes by the mid-2020s and reaching Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Berry added.
“Radical policies will be needed to deliver these targets which should include reform of the planning system and a new strategy to make our existing homes more energy efficient.”