The Construction Leadership Council earlier this week convened a meeting of over 100 industry leaders, to develop sector contingency plans for a No Deal Brexit. The conference brought together firms from across the sector, including construction contractors from across the supply chain, house builders, product manufacturing and professional services, as well as trade associations and key construction clients.

Meeting in the Institution of Civil Engineers, participants heard from a range of speakers, from the Construction Products Association, the Port of Tilbury and Government Departments, on issues including the potential impact of a no deal Brexit, the import and export of goods, migration policy and the regulation of construction products. This was followed by a discussion on the key impacts, and what companies of all sizes from across the industry can do to prepare for the possibility of a No Deal Brexit.

The following actions were agreed by participants:

  • The CLC will be convening a group to address how the industry can recruit, retain and support foreign nationals within the UK construction workforce, and engages with the consultations on the Government’s Future Skills Immigration White Paper
  •  The CLC will work with trade associations and other bodies to understand the impact of changes to the rules on the import and export of goods within the supply chain. In the interim the CLC will encourage all construction businesses to initiate conversations with their supply chains and clients to prepare for potential disruption.
  • The CLC will work with the construction products sector to promote and share guidance on potential changes to the rules on demonstrating compliance with product regulations following Brexit.
  • The CLC acknowledges the challenges that preparing for a no deal represents at a business and project level. We will communicate to government the cost and complexity of mitigation and the potential impact on the sustainability and productivity of the industry.    The CLC will be setting out its plans for follow up action shortly, and will be contacting all participants, and the wider industry about this event and the planned actions later this week.

Andy Mitchell, CLC Chairman said:

“Whilst a No Deal Brexit remains a possibility, firms in the construction industry have a responsibility to their employees, clients and the firms in their supply chain to plan for this. The potential impacts of a No Deal Brexit for the industry would be significant – and today marked the first steps in the industry acting together to mitigate these.

“I am pleased that we were able to collectively agree actions that will help ensure the industry has access to the workers, products and materials that it requires to deliver, and to manage any disruption.

“The Construction Leadership Council is committed to supporting the industry to help coordinate and work with those who attended – and the wider industry, to ensure that whatever happens, the industry will be as well-informed and well-prepared as possible“.

Iain McIlwee, attending on behalf of the FIS Membership stated: “This was a useful event, but it underpinned how unprepared we really are.  We are a resilient and adaptable sector, but need time to prepare and manage what could be some pretty major changes.  My immediate concern is the cost of potential delays due to flow of materials and products and how this will be managed within existing contractual frameworks.  Force Majeure is “unforeseeable circumstances that prevent a party from fulfilling a contract” and expert advice seems to interpret this to say that Brexit was not unforeseen and hence provides little protection.  In debate it was suggested that these costs would be “borne and passed on” by the major contractors, which is not what the supply chain wants to hear.  This is a point we are following up with BEIS and through both Build UK and CPA.  The CLC is calling for the supply chain to pull together and this is certainly something that we need to manage.  We will continue to flag this and other considerations in our Brexit Checklist and ask all members to raise any concerns they have so that we ensure we are leaving no stone unturned in helping our members adjust to our new normal.”

You can download the slides from the event below: