Politicians could demolish recovery

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Northern Ireland’s improving construction sector will falter unless the political uncertainty in Stormont is resolved, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Commenting on the results of the FMB’s Q3 2015 State of Trade Survey, Maire Nawaz, Director of FMB NI, said: “The rug is about to be pulled out from underneath the construction sector in Northern Ireland, which has gone from strength to strength in the past few months.

“The situation for builders in Northern Ireland is frustrating, because after several highly challenging years, builders feel as if the recovery is finally starting to gain momentum. However, the political deadlock in Northern Ireland is having a negative impact on confidence and directly impacting on economic investment.”

Nawaz continued: “In a recent survey from the Construction Industry Group, 100 per cent of respondents claimed that the current impasse is resulting in a negative view of construction-related investment in Northern Ireland by both external and local investors.

“In addition, the FMB’s latest research shows that the skills time bomb is in danger of exploding with a staggering 60 per cent of small construction firms struggling to hire bricklayers.

“This has leapt up from 49 per cent just three months ago. Looking at other vital trades, 54 per cent of firms are struggling to hire carpenters and joiners, up from 47 per cent in the previous quarter.

“These are issues that require concerted political action and it’s imperative that we find a way to convince people that a career in construction is rewarding and worthwhile.”

Nawaz concluded: “With a turnover of £2.18 billion in 2014, and employing 10 per cent of the working population, the local construction industry is of major importance to the Northern Ireland economy. The politicians need to agree a way forward. Failure to do so will have catastrophic implications for the local construction industry and the wider Northern Ireland economy.”