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FMB makes recommendations on back of bleak trade report

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has outlined what the government needs to do aid the residential construction market, after their latest State of Trade Survey painted a bleak picture of the immediate future for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the construction sector.

The FMB published its latest survey on Monday, analysing industry trends over the thirds quarter of 2012, comparing them to figures from the previous quarter and last year. It is the only survey of its kind that looks at the state of the industry from the perspective of the smaller business operatives.

The survey showed that overall workloads for SMEs continued to decline during the quarter and the outlook for the next three months fell as well. The proportion of firms with positive expectations was only 18 per cent, falling from 22 per cent in the second quarter survey.

The chief executive of the FMB, Brian Berry, said the figures were not what the industry had been hoping for and that fewer than half the number of homes needed to fit the current demand are being built.

He said there is “little doubt” that there is a serious housing crisis at the moment and the government needs to do all that it can to encourage new house building and ease pressures on smaller developers and construction companies.

“With the industry in such a fragile state the Government must think very carefully about introducing any new burdens on the house building sector,” Berry said. “We want to help the Prime Minister achieve his goal of building more houses in Britain and so we are making the case that now is not the time to be pushing on with policies designed during the economic boom. Instead real progress is required on deregulation.”

Berry said that the announcement of a business bank was a step in the right direction, but warned that it is not just businesses that need access to funding – housebuyers need help with obtaining the funding to make purchases.

Other statistics from the industry report showed that only nine per cent of small companies expect to increase their staffing numbers in the next six months – although more than half, some 59 per cent, do expect their staff levels to stay the same. It is also widely predicted that small building companies are in for a rise in overheads, with some 70 per cent expecting the cost of materials to rise significantly within the next six months.