Brick shortage holding up housebuilding process 'from beginning to end' - report

Britain's chronic brick shortage is ramping up house prices and the situation could be made worse by the Brexit vote, a new report has warned. 

The supply of the vital building material is failing to keep pace with the demand for homes, exacerbating Britain's housing crisis, according to the National Association of Estate Agents' (NAEA) Bricks Report. 

It said the industry would need to find 1.4 billion bricks - the equivalent to 740 Big Bens - to plug Britain's shortfall of 264,000 homes.

The study, compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), found that more than 60% of small and medium-sized construction firms faced a two month wait for new brick orders last year.

There are also concerns that Britain's vote to leave the European Union could hamper supply further, as 85% of imported clay and cement bricks came into the UK from the EU last year.

Brickmakers came under pressure during Britain's last recession, with many being forced to mothball their kilns. 

Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA, said the lack of bricks was holding up the housebuilding process "from beginning to end".

"We're concerned that the impact of the EU referendum means this problem could get worse as we rely on the import of brick components from the EU and of course many of our skilled labourers come from there too."

The report said Britain's vote to leave the European Union was likely to place tighter restrictions on EU nationals working in the construction industry, worsening the skills shortage by holding back the supply of new homes. 

Steve Hearty, head of apprenticeships at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), said: "While construction apprenticeships are at a six-year high, more needs to be done to address skills shortages, particularly in housebuilding.

"Although we don't yet know what impact Brexit will have, by investing in skills based on the best evidence, we can help solve skills issues in housebuilding."

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