London construction companies still reliant on EU builders

A study carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that London’s construction industry is reliant on migrant labour with 28% of workers coming from EU countries and a further 7% coming from elsewhere. The implications of this following Brexit needs to be taken into account, according to experts.

The figures show that across the entire UK, the number of migrant construction workers is a total of 10%, with 7% coming from the EU. This is similar to other industries - however, the numbers in London far outweigh this. In fact, it has been said that the real figures for London could be much higher as many migrant workers do not fill in surveys.

Economist at the Construction Products Association, Noble Francis has suggested that if the growth of £600bn that the government has planned for infrastructure, plus the targets in place for house building take place, there could be a huge problem finding enough workers in the London area and they may be moved in from other parts of the UK.

The ONS report says that much of the pressure on the industry could be down to an ageing UK workforce. One-fifth of UK nationals in construction are aged over 55 and almost half are over 45. This compares to non-UK nationals who are mostly aged between 25 and 45. These break down into one-third of foreigners working as general labourers and around 10% in management or professional roles. More foreign nationals fill skilled jobs such as plastering than UK nationals.

Mr Noble has noted that the construction industry is unlikely to receive special treatment when it comes to visa applications and in any case, small businesses will find it hard to deal with the cost and paperwork involved in bringing in overseas workers.