Credit: Kennie Louie/Flickr

London is running out of bricks - and brickies

The booming construction sector is struggling to keep up with demand.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 19 Oct 2015

London's construction boom is swallowing up resources at a phenomenal rate. After taking a big hit following the financial crisis, builders in the capital are now struggling to keep up with demand.

A study published today by property developer the Linton Group, found that London will find it difficult to source bricks it needs to keep building the new homes required to house its growing population. Though Britain produces 1.7 billion bricks per year, imports jumped a mighty 63% in 2014 as construction firms were forced to look elsewhere.

'At current we’re just not producing enough bricks to meet this demand,' the group's managing director Gary Linton told City AM. 'The current brick crisis in London is a bubbling undercurrent occurring at a time when a whole host of factors are coming together to create the perfect storm of crisis and complexity for developers across the capital.'

One of those other factors is the supply of labour. A separate study out today from the Federation of Master Builders found that two thirds of its members – small and medium-sized construction firms – had been forced to turn down work because of a shortage of skilled workers. London in particular was suffering from a lack of brickies, carpenters, electricians and painters.

'The lack of experienced multi-skilled workers is a huge concern for my business, as it could affect our future growth plans,' said Tony Passmore, CEO of the Passmore Group. 'We urgently need tradespeople that are trained in more than one area, such as plumbing, tiling and joinery for bathroom installations - but we just aren’t seeing the candidates come through.'

The FMB said this was largely due to shortage of people taking up building apprenticeships – something the Government would do well to put right. But then if newly-trained brickies don't have any bricks left to lay then they won't have much to do anyway.

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