How Brexit could affect house prices: Housebuilders' reliance on foreign workers revealed

 
Emma Haslett
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Housing Agenda Dominates Government Programme
More than half of workers on sites in London are from overseas (Source: Getty)

The UK's ambitious new housebuilding target could be at risk after Brexit, an influential group has warned, after a study showed almost a fifth of those employed in the sector were born outside the UK.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) said continued access to overseas workers was "absolutely essential" if the UK is to continue on its path to meeting targets for housebuilding.

According to the survey, more than half of workers on housebuilding sites in the capital are from overseas, while more than a fifth of those working in the South East are foreign.

In his Budget speech last month Philip Hammond set a target to build 300,000 new homes a year by 2025, abolishing stamp duty for first time buyers and pledging a £44bn package of investment, loans and guarantees for the sector.

The sector has been flourishing in recent years: in 2016-2017, the number of new homes rose above 200,000 for the first time since the financial crisis.

Read more: The government's about to make a major push to build more homes

But the HBF said while output in the sector has increased 74 per cent in the past four years, to meet the latest target, the government must ensure housebuilders can hire overseas workers.

"The results of this census clearly demonstrate the reliance the industry currently has on non UK workers," said Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF.

"Achieving the very challenging targets set by government will require further big increases in workforce capacity.

"Whilst the industry is investing heavily in recruiting and training young people leaving our schools, colleges and universities, continued access to overseas workers is absolutely essential.”

Read more: Our planning system holds up house building, not landbanking developers

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