With only a few days to go the question on everyone’s lips is…should we stay or should we leave the EU?
Within the construction industry the opinions are split 60/40 in favour of remaining in the EU, according to a recent survey by Construction Marketing Experts.
In our previous article ‘To leave or not to leave’ we outlined the impacts of remaining in the EU on the construction industry.
However a lot has happened since then with more ‘leave’ views coming into the spotlight. So we wanted to take a look at some of the opposing views to see how leaving the EU could benefit builders.
Opportunity to develop home-grown apprentices
One of the biggest impacts highlighted by the ‘remain’ argument is that a Brexit could worsen the skills shortage for skilled and non-skilled construction jobs.
However ‘leave’ supporters believe that this could actually provide an opportunity to invest in apprentices to develop the skills force we need right here in the UK.
In a recent survey from Construction Marketing Experts, a firm from Hull was quick to dismiss fears regarding labour and offer a solution. “Rather than importing skilled construction from the EU it would be more incumbent upon contractors to ensure a steady chain of home-grown apprentices. Companies should be funding training without the need for additional support from the government as it is in their own interests. Forget shareholders for a moment and look at the bigger picture.”
Less bureaucracy for smaller builders
If Britain was to leave the EU, pressure to achieve the 2020 target for zero carbon homes would be reduced. This is good news for smaller builders who would find it increasingly difficult to meet these energy efficiency targets. Sarah McMonagle, Head of External Affairs at the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) says, “The prospect of less red tape must be appealing, particularly for those smaller builders who find complying with Euro-regulations quite burdensome … If we were not part of the EU that would be advantageous for small housebuilders for whom going further could be quite problematic.”
This view is mirrored by the results of a recent poll conducted by the National Federation of Builders (NFB) who reported that 47% of their members were in favour of leaving the EU. According to Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the NFB, “The majority of NFB panel members who think their business and the UK would be better out of the EU reflects how little business construction SMEs conduct with the EU."
Better off financially
Some argue that although initially a Brexit would weaken the pound this would eventually make us better off financially.
A Director at a construction firm commented, “I believe that our country would be financially stronger after the initial shock waves. If the pound becomes weaker for a while then it will make our imports more expensive and exports more attractive, nothing wrong with that. We would almost certainly negotiate a tariff free trade deal with Europe because we buy a lot more than we sell.”
So will Britain exit from the EU?
While the Construction Marketing Experts poll showed that almost 60% of those in the construction industry would vote to remain, it’s still difficult to say whether this will reflect the outcome on the 23rd June.
A survey by Smith and Williamson at the start of 2016 found that only 15% of construction executives favoured a UK exit from the EU. This figure has now crept up to a whopping 40% in a more recent poll.
So who knows how this will change in the space of a week.
By Olivia Catterall