Ever since David Cameron announced the date of the EU referendum back in February, there has been much discussion about what could lay ahead for the country should we pull out. From how much we pay for everyday goods to whether it will help us control immigration, all of the hot topics have been discussed at length. One area that is of particular interest to us is the impact a ‘Brexit’ would have on the UK construction industry.
For those operating in our industry, we believe there to be three key areas of debate:
Restrictions on the Free Movement of Labour
Probably the most important issue is that off accessing labour. In 2015 the Guardian newspaper reported about the lack of school leavers considering careers in the UK construction market. This was later backed up by an article in The Telegraph which argued that the lack of skilled labour in the industry was holding the country back. With outputs expected to grow next year and in the years ahead, access to labour could become an even more crucial subject. With the UK construction industry already reliant on foreign labour and a ‘no’ vote potentially stopping the free movement of skilled workers to the country, we could lose talented individuals to countries such as France and Germany.
Reduced Investment in UK Businesses
The European Union is the biggest trading union in the world. It breaks down barriers and helps companies across the continent trade with one another. Since the announcement of a referendum, a number of European businesses, including Airbus, have come out and expressed concern about investing in an independent UK until the business landscape has become clearer.
Removal of Red Tape
Many have long argued that being a member of the European Union results in time consuming ‘red tape’ slowing projects or even stopping them getting off the ground in the first instance. By exiting the EU we would have the power to implement our own environmental and health and safety legislation – something which could reduce the length it time it takes to get things done and the tremendous costs which this can incur.
Of course, a country leaving the EU is an unprecedented event and there are many things we simply won’t know until it happens. However, it is hard to find many who believe that a ‘Brexit’ would be good for our industry. You only have to look at a recent article for building.co.uk, which suggests that 85% of companies working in the construction and real estate sectors back remaining in the EU.