What does the UK material shortage mean for the construction industry?

British ports have truly felt the repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, with huge problems presenting themselves with shipping and the container charges becoming vastly higher.

Why is this happening? Well, with many people stockpiling last year due to the pandemic and a rush to get shipments in ahead of the Brexit transition period last year, the UK’s busiest ports are now becoming congested which has led to many carriers adding congestion charges.

congestion at ports

Freightos reported problems affecting some of the nation’s busiest ports has seen the average cost of shipping a 40ft container rising as much as 380% between October 2020 and February 2021.

Adam Russell who imports home appliances for One Retail Group in London told the BBC “we used to pay $2,000 to ship a 40ft container to the UK, now we’re paying at least $8,000 up to $10,000”.

As well as an increase in shipping costs, there is a delay in shipping and deliveries too and it’s a problem that isn’t going away easily either. Many construction manufacturers are now quoting 2022 delivery dates. So, what does this mean for the construction industry?

With many people being left without the materials and equipment that they need, there has been an increased amount of construction site break-in reports. The demand for these materials is increasing and with nowhere else to access them, thieves are taking any opportunity they can get.

Between April and May 2021, there has been a report of a large number of power tools being stolen from a building site in Kent and a Kubota G21 E LD ride-on mower being stolen in Aberdeenshire on 11th May.  These are just two of the many reported incidents across the UK in the last two months alone.

This direct correlation shows one thing, there is an urgent call for construction sites to become more secure.

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