Countdown to Brexit: Anthony Cork, Director, Gleeds in Nottingham

Anthony Cork, Director, Gleeds in Nottingham

With the countdown to Brexit quickly ticking away, Business Link Magazine invites a select number of the region’s business leaders to offer their thoughts. Here we talk with Anthony Cork, Director, Gleeds in Nottingham.

Accounting for 6% of GDP in 2017, the construction sector is a major contributor to the UK economy, so the potential implications of Brexit are not to be taken lightly.

As one of the UK’s major employers, the industry comprises approximately 300,000 firms, employing over 3 million people. At Gleeds, we take our responsibilities seriously as a leading player in the Midlands construction market and are keen to raise awareness of the specific challenges that may be ahead.

The cost of materials

Should a ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome result, we are concerned about increased costs in the import of products and materials, 15% of which currently derive from the EU. This could also lead to a significant fall in construction workload, which could compromise our output as an industry, as well as employment across the region.

The construction sector workforce

7% of the UK construction workforce is made up of EU citizens. A ‘no deal’ Brexit will mean these workers have no defined status and will increase complexity of bureaucracy. With a current skills shortage impacting the sector, huge uncertainty in recruiting EU citizens will further exacerbate our need as a country to invest in the next generation and develop talent.

Gleeds would encourage the government to take steps to mitigate the potential short-term negative effects of a ‘no deal’ Brexit at this time, to keep the industry moving and shore-up GDP through:

* Setting out a multi-billion pound construction stimulus package

* Drawing up legislation, continuing recognition of EU-tested construction products in the UK, in a way which avoids a need for lengthy border checks

* Implementing an immigration system “fall-back” which mirrors the existing system of Freedom of Movement

* Granting recognition of the qualifications of EU construction professionals including architects and engineers