A survey done on building firms has found shortages in scaffolders, which is suffocating the boom in house building and civil engineering projects in the UK. Industry experts fear that these shortages could last for several years, as some of the most in-demand scaffolders have been left off due to Brexit. With the material supplies and transportation issues being worsened by the current driver shortages, industry experts are calling on the government to get a grip on the situation.
So far, there have not been many changes taking place in the scaffolding industry due to Brexit. So far, the only difference is references to the EU have been removed from scaffolding companies’ websites in the UK. But perhaps one of the main concerns has something to do with health and safety regulations. The HSE has assured the construction and scaffolding industry that there won’t be any changes to the regulations that could negatively affect the workers post-Brexit.
Another significant impact of Brexit on the scaffolding industry is the timber trade. High-quality timber is essential for scaffolding, so the impact of Brexit on timber trade can be a significant factor for the industry. Although trade discussions are still ongoing, they made it clear that the UK will no longer be part of the EU’s customs union. Thus, the biggest change here is the VAT and excise procedures that will apply.
HGV Driver Shortages
The shortage of HGV drivers is one of the factors that may have contributed to the scaffolding shortages in the UK. A survey done by the Road Haulage Association on its members showed a shortage of more than 100,000 qualified drivers in the country. This figure includes those thousands of drivers coming from EU nations who were previously living and working in the UK.
Although there are already shortages of HGV drivers across Europe, Brexit has worsened things. Due to Brexit, many EU drivers have to return to their home countries or look for work elsewhere. Before, they can come and go as they please. However, with the implementation of the new immigration rules, this is no longer the case.
Covid Means Working Immigrants Return to Countries of Origin
While Brexit is seen as one of the main factors for the construction crisis in the UK, Covid is certainly part of the problem. When the UK government imposed travel bans and restrictions, travel became increasingly restricted. Moreover, large parts of the economy have been shut down. As a result, working immigrants have to return to their countries of origin, which include those who work in the scaffolding industry.
The pandemic has also created a large backlog in HGV driver tests, which further contributes to the shortage of HGV drivers in the country. These drivers play an important role in the scaffolding industry since they are responsible for transporting scaffolds and other materials from one construction site to another. The pandemic has made it difficult to get enough people to work for the construction and scaffolding industry.