Middle-market construction firms are the most upbeat about the impact of Brexit of all UK industries, according to a new poll.
Tax consultants RSM commissioned a survey based on interviews with senior managers at 348 companies with turnovers of £30m-£300m, 60 of which were construction firms.
The data showed that industry confidence in the UK’s economic prospects increased during the second quarter of 2018.
Respondents answered questions on Brexit-related topics and were given an indexed confidence score, of which any reading over 100 classed a business as more optimistic about Brexit than pessimistic.
The index for construction companies was 134 – the highest of all the sectors surveyed and up from 99 in a previous survey conducted in September 2017.
The construction industry was also the most upbeat over the government’s ability to deliver a good Brexit deal, with 68 per cent confident there would be a positive outcome.
Continued membership of the customs union was also flagged as a priority by construction firms, with 71 per cent agreeing this would benefit their business – the highest score of all sectors.
When asked about business priorities post-Brexit, a fifth of firms said that increasing local recruitment was top of their agenda.
Expanding into non-EU markets was the next highest priority, with 13 per cent placing that top, while 10 per cent stated that reviewing the legislation for hiring EU nationals was highest on their lists.
RSM head of construction Kelly Boorman said: “This uplift in positive sentiment could be due to more clarity around the status of EU citizens currently living and working in the UK, which is clearly a top priority for the sector.
“However, with an ageing workforce approaching retirement, the UK construction market could face a real challenge as a result of Brexit to access the right skills.
“If uncertainty or more restrictive parameters for EU citizens to work in the UK are implemented, then the war in talent will intensify, which will push up costs.”
United Living chief executive Ian Burnett told CN this week his firm was considering stockpiling materials from the EU ahead of next year’s Brexit deadline.
While Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial revealed plans to move its international office out of the UK due to Brexit concerns.
Source: Construction News