A major survey from the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and Scotland’s Trade Association for the electrical industry, SELECT, has revealed that the building services engineering sector believe it will weather the outcome of Brexit over the next few years.
Building services engineering makes up 40% of the UK construction and maintenance sector, which in turn accounts for 7% of UK GDP.
The generally positive results of the survey will be welcome news to installers, gas engineers, plumbers and electricians who have been worried by conflicting reports over the past few months.
The Survey Findings
- 46% believe Brexit will have a positive effect on their company in just five years’ time, 19% said it would have a negative impact, and 23% said it will have no discernable impact.
- Large contractors with over £20 million turnover were slightly less optimistic about the short-term business prospects than smaller contactors.
- The sector puts maintaining access to the EU ‘single market’ at the top of its list of Brexit aspirations, closely followed by more control of employment law and the need to negotiate non-EU trade deals.
- 92% said they did not rely on EU migrant workers, reflecting a general tendency to use skilled UK workers, rather than EU workers.
- 71% of the large contractors (over £20 million turnover) reported they did not rely on EU workers, indicating slightly more reliance that the sector overall.
- Only 25% agreed that Brexit would ‘worsen the shortage of qualified workers’.
Despite the general positivity, 47% of respondents said they think the cost of materials will rise as a result of Brexit, while only 22% do not think Brexit will cause this to happen.
What They Say…
BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin said:
“Our survey clearly shows that many contractors are conditionally optimistic in the wake of the Brexit vote. In fact, putting these findings alongside the brighter than expected data for the UK economy as a whole gives us a much more upbeat feel than could reasonably have been predicted back in June.
“The survey provides extremely valuable feedback about what matters most to contractors as the UK sets about negotiating a new relationship with Europe. As a result, we will draw up an action plan for the building engineering services sector to focus our lobbying efforts in the coming months.”
ECA CEO Steve Bratt added:
“No matter how our relationship with Europe develops, our sector has a huge role to play in achieving UK business growth. This includes providing skilled jobs, fully functional buildings and infrastructure, and UK energy security.
“To help us achieve these aims, it’s vital that we know the initial views of our sector as we head towards Brexit. Significantly, contractors are telling us that they want the UK to maintain access to the Single Market, while they less concerned about ensuring freedom of movement.”
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