Construction products industry calls for help

Clay Technology magazine
17 Apr 2009
Building work

Urgent delivery of promised public construction programmes is needed,
says the UK Construction Products Association Chairman, Adrian
Barden, in a letter to the Government.

In the past year UK construction has fallen by nearly 50%, with over 69,000 jobs being lost as of February, according to the Office for National Statistics. Private and public housing builds fell by 43% and 60%, respectively, in 2008. A further 12,000 people in the sector are now on reduced working times.

Brick and block producers have been particularly hard hit by the construction cooldown, with output declines of around 66% and 13% each in 2008, according to UK market research firm AMA Research. The UK’s Construction Products Association has also forecast that construction output will fall by 12% in 2009 and a further 3.4% in 2010. Recovery is not expected until 2012.

Tyrone Brick, in Coalisland, Northern Ireland, is one of the more recent victims of the downturn. The company has laid off 62 people – 95% of its production workforce – and has ceased production. The company is sitting on a surplus of 35m bricks.

‘The scale of job losses is staggering,’ says Barden. ‘This is 10 times the number of jobs estimated to have been lost in car manufacturing.’ He notes that companies, particularly SMEs, are facing difficulties in raising capital. Nearly £17bln worth of planned private finance initiative work has yet to start, ‘which could be delayed by an inability to secure private finance’.

He has warned that unless public loan and building schemes are brought forward in the next pre-budget report, ‘we seem likely to see the number of redundancies in the construction products industry exceed 100,000 since the start of the recession’.

The UK Federation of Master Builders has also suggested that the Government set up a programme of renovation for the UK’s existing housing stock to help reduce carbon emissions and give construction workers employment. ‘The Government could kill two birds with one stone by setting out a strategy to renovate existing buildings to eco-excellent standards,’
notes Director General Richard Diment. ‘Research suggests this could create a £3.5bln market for the sector.’

Further information: Construction Products Association, Tyrone Brick, and AMA Research