Materials and skills shortage is damaging housebuilding progress

Bricks and concrete blocks are in particularly short supply.

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The Independent Online

Latest figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors indicated that while housebuilding in the UK continued its revival towards the end of 2013, there are serious shortages of both skills and materials.

Around 36 per cent of respondents to its survey said that labour shortages are restricting building, with skills shortages increasing across all trades and bricklayers especially scarce and bricks and concrete blocks in short supply.

Alan Muse, RICS Director of Built Environment, said: "More homes are being built, infrastructure is being upgraded and each part of the UK is benefiting from this more positive picture. However, with recent estimates stating that over 230,000 new homes need to be built just to keep up with population growth, further initiatives from the government will be necessary to get close to this target."

Expectations for future construction activity were positive with 74 per cent more chartered surveyors expecting workloads to increase rather than decrease during 2014.

The RICS figures come as the Office for National Statistics released its latest production figures showing that although public and private housing construction have increased by 10 per cent and 13.8 per cent respectively in the first 11 months of 2013, in November there was also a 3.2 per cent fall in private new housing over the previous month.

Duncan Kreeger, director at West One Loans said: "Gentle progress is encouraging for the property industry. But it won’t be fast enough to solve the crisis facing families in search of affordable homes, or businesses looking for the right location. The construction industry has suffered brutally at the hands of the recession and mainstream lenders are still treating this critical area of the economy with more caution than it needs.

"It's more than just a housing shortage. There just aren’t enough homes and offices in the right places, made worse by the reluctance of traditional lenders to touch riskier projects, such as those with complex planning permissions or being led by smaller property developers."