Statement from John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation and Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association, co-chairs of the Construction Leadership Council’s Material Supply Chain Group

The latest report from the Construction Leadership Council’s Material Supply Chain Group (formerly Product Availability Group) continues to show good levels of product availability across the board.

There are, however, isolated reports of minor availability issues for certain profiles of concrete roof tiles, aircrete blocks, doors and some timber products, but these are limited to particular regions or manufacturers and evidence suggests they are likely to be temporary.

Prices are relatively stable with the level of any increase mostly low and manageable. The main exceptions, as mentioned last month, are PIR insulation which has experienced a more significant price increase, and timber, where prices for some products continue to fluctuate.

Regarding shipping, the Group continue to monitor the impact of hostilities in the Middle East on supply lines between Asia and the UK via the Red Sea, but any impact on costs and delivery times are said to be modest and manageable.

Inclement weather and stubbornly high interest and mortgage rates in the first half of the year slowed activity and demand, but there are now signs that RMI work is picking up and Group members expressed cautious optimism going into the second half of the year, and particularly when looking ahead to 2025. Many are looking to the new government to help drive the recovery by acting quickly to support UK construction with measures to promote housebuilding, infrastructure, energy efficiency retrofit and planning reform. Such clarity, together with anticipated rate cuts from the Bank of England would help to stimulate key sectors of the industry.

In anticipation of an uptick in demand, manufacturers have highlighted the need for accurate forward forecasts to ensure capacity is set at the correct level to match demand.

The CLC’s continuing advice to everyone involved, particularly housebuilders and SME contractors, is to plan in advance, work closely with your supply chain and communicate your requirements early with suppliers, distributors and builders’ merchants. As we learned during the pandemic, collaborative, ongoing communication throughout the whole supply chain is mutually beneficial and essential to a healthy, productive UK construction industry.