Construction News

Sat December 05 2020

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Materials shortages easing, say industry leaders

27 May Shortages of construction materials and building products, exacerbate by the coronavirus lockdown, are now easing, the government is being told by its Construction Leadership Council.

Bricks are readily availabe but the supply of some other materials remains tricky
Bricks are readily availabe but the supply of some other materials remains tricky

However, it may not be until July that plaster becomes as readily available as it used to be, pre-Covid, and aggregate supply remains patchy.

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) product availability group meets online once a week to discuss pinch points in the supply chain. It brings together the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) and the Construction Products Association (CPA) with contractors, builders and housebuilders to assess current stock levels and how shortages are being addressed.

The CLC reports that there is now “a good supply” of the majority of building materials and products. 

The Brick Development Council says that there are 480 million clay bricks ready for delivery from 56 factories around the country. Within the supply chain there is also depth of stock in plumbing and heating, general light-side and electrical products.

Exceptions include plaster/plasterboard and aggregates. The CLC says that increased plaster production should see stock levels restored by the end of June. 

But with some quarries still to open, there are regional variations in the availability of aggregates.

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CPA chief executive Peter Caplehorn said: “The meetings are proving invaluable in shedding light on the availability of different product groups and the circumstances and business reasons behind their status, as well as the consequences, including a small but critical number of product shortages which are now being resolved with increasing production.

“Ultimately, what we’ve helped facilitate is a frank but collegial discussion around business planning that has helped us share the facts, dispel rumours and uncertainty, and plot a way forward to ‘re-open’ the industry.”

BMF chief executive John Newcomb added: “This group has been instrumental in addressing some difficult supply and demand issues since the early days of the lockdown when most businesses chose to close and only ‘essential’ projects were the focus of attention.

“Since then, we’ve been pleased to see confidence growing and nearly all of our merchants re-opening, builders returning, site output increasing, and manufacturers ramping up capacity in line with new orders.  All of this is being done with new operating procedures in place to ensure that safety is paramount.

“I’m encouraged that, in the face of unprecedented circumstances, our industry is working so collaboratively to address the challenges we are facing and get Britain building again.”

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