Published: 29 August 2017
Area of Law: Brexit, Business Immigration, Planning
Planning and Brexit – your view
At our annual planning conference, we picked the brains of the 100-strong event contingent to gain a snapshot of the views on Brexit from individuals involved in the real estate development sector.
The results revealed some interesting insights….
The split response in the research echoes the divisive result of the EU Referendum vote back in June 2016, with almost a 50:50 split from respondents on whether Brexit will impact their organisation. 42 per cent believe it will have a negative impact vs 44 percent who believe it will have no impact whatsoever. Although the latter may be wishful thinking, there were deeper concerns around the impact of delivering housing targets.
More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of those surveyed believe that Brexit will have no impact on housing demand, predicting it to remain at current levels. However, 92 per cent of respondents anticipate the flow of skilled migrant workers into the UK construction market to decrease considerably.
Despite more people in the real estate sector believing Brexit will have no impact on the sector at all, 60 per cent of respondents recognised that the UK’s attractiveness as a global destination will decrease. It seems as if some business leaders are flying blind about the full implications of Brexit, but flying all the same.
So how will the UK construction market keep up with demand with a reduced workforce?
The research results make for interesting reading and although the impact of Brexit is still uncertain, businesses in the construction sector need to start planning now. With the spotlight recently being placed on the implications of the Air Quality Plan and housing targets, there is no doubt that the industry will have its hands full for the next few years at least.
The latest documents published by the EU which highlight its negotiation position, reveal a fundamentally different outlook between the UK and EU27. The EU has locked in a legally binding negotiating mandate that will either put trade negotiations at the end of the process or will take too long to change, meaning the prospect of a completed trade deal looks remote.
The biggest concern highlighted for the construction industry is its access to skilled workers and this is unlikely to improve without positive action. The construction industry has been battling against a skills gap for years and there is concern that this will only become wider if Europeans are not able to secure their rights as residents in the UK or the current points based system for non UK/EU skilled workers is extended to European nationals post Brexit.
Whilst many skilled EU construction workers must take active steps themselves to put the necessary wheels in motion allowing them to continue living and working in the UK, much of the sector relies heavily on contracted and agency work. For those employers, such as agencies, who keep a large number of EU workers on the books, identifying any staffing and skills risks posed by Brexit well ahead of time is a vital priority.
Those businesses that plan earliest will secure the biggest advantages but it won’t come without significant time investment, tough decisions and the ability to act quickly.