Brick shortage claims misleading
“There was strong growth in construction orders in July, led by housing.”
Don’t take out word for it. These are the words of ONS statistician Nick Vaughan.
The Office for National Statistics says construction output remained steady with growth in infrastructure offset by falls in repair work and commercial buildings.
There’s very little anecdotal evidence that the vote to leave the EU has affected construction output, it adds.
However, a study by the National Association of Estate Agents and the Centre for Economics and Business Research reveals the UK needs 1.4 billion bricks to fix the housing market.
The Brick Report says the UK’s shortage of bricks is at a level that is equal to the number needed for all the homes in Leicestershire.
It takes an average of 5,180 bricks to build an average UK property and housing experts calculate we need another 264,000 homes built each year over the next decade.
That equals the need for 1.35 billion bricks – enough for 740 Big Bens, 40 Tower Bridges, 3090 Manchester Town Halls and 4540 Warwick Castles.
The Brick Report warns that Britain's vote to leave the EU could significantly worsen the supply of bricks in the UK, with 85% of all imported clay and cement arriving from the EU in 2015.
This has already had a significant effect on small to medium-sized construction firms, with two-thirds having to deal with a two-month wait for new bricks last year. Nearly a quarter had to waiting for up to four months and 16% had to wait for six to eight months, according to The Brick Report.
But the Brick Development Association – which represents 99% of the brick manufacturers in the UK – calls these claims “out of date and unhelpful”.
BDA chief executive Andrew Eagles says: “We can report with absolute authority that there is no shortage.
“There has been a significant increase in brick production over the last 15 months and this is confirmed by ONS statistics. The Construction Products Association, Builders Merchants Federation and major house builders also confirm that they have not seen any issues with brick supply in the last year.
“The report citing a brick shortage is based on data from April 2015. This is 15 months out of date. It is misleading and damaging for the brick and construction industry. I find it astonishing that the CEBR felt it useful to release a report that was so out of date.”
He adds: “The challenges the brick industry faced in 2014 when there was a dramatic increase in housebuilding are now behind us and the industry is confident it can meet the growing demand for its products in housing and other construction projects.”
In February, the BDA reported that manufacturers increased production by nearly 10% in 2015 to almost 2 billion bricks - more than 30% higher than in 2010.
It adds that in the second quarter of 2016, deliveries have been 10.4% higher than in the first quarter. The deliveries in June were also 7.4% higher than the figure predicted in May.
These results also correlate with statistics that show 41,222 new homes were built in the UK in Q2, which is a 1% increase on the same period in 2015. This is also the highest number of houses built since Q4 of 2007, the BDA notes.
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