Housing

Brexit Will Make Housing Crisis Worse, Claims Labour

Labour's shadow housing minister John Healey warns that Brexit will leave a skills gap shortage and exacerbate the housing crisis

Building more homes will require more builders. Yet the latest figures show a marked decline in construction apprenticeships across the UK.

And the Labour Party has warned that Brexit could leave Britain with a skills gap that would make the country’s housing crisis even worse.

According to the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey, the number of completed apprenticeships in the building trade sector has fallen from 17,080 in 2007/08 to just 8,470 in 2014/15.

Labour said there was a desperate need to train more young British workers if Brexit was to restrict opportunities for overseas workers. The ONS figures show 191,000 of the house builders’ 2.3 million workers are from the EU – just over 8% of the industry workforce.

In London the reliance on European builders is much starker: 27% of construction workers are from the EU.

Not enough has been done to train Brits who want to work in the building trade

“This is a wake-up call for ministers and building industry bosses,” said shadow housing minister John Healy MP. “Not enough has been done to train up young Brits who want to work in the building trade, and the risk now is that Brexit will leave us without the skilled workforce to build the homes that the country desperately needs.”

“Ministers need to get a grip fast,” he added. “They should urgently conduct and publish an assessment of the Brexit risks to the building industry before proper negotiations start, and in the meantime focus their efforts on funding the training of young Brits to do these vital jobs.”

Last month the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) could lose around 175,000 EU construction workers if the UK is not part of the single market after Brexit.

“A loss of access to the single market has the potential to slowly bring the UK’s £500 billion infrastructure pipeline to a standstill,” said Jeremy Blackburn, head of UK policy at RICS.

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