FIS Expresses Disappointment over Russian Aluminium still available in the UK

FIS Expresses Disappointment over Russian Aluminium still available in the UK

Last week European Aluminium, an association representing the European aluminium sector, issued a hard-hitting statement to the European Parliament, calling on them to address the ongoing exclusion of major aluminium product categories from its sanctions regime on Russia. This stands in stark contrast to actions taken by UK Government and other G7 international partners, including the US, and Canada, which have already imposed measures on Russian aluminium ingots.

European Aluminium stresses that a comprehensive ban should encompass all principal categories of aluminium products — including ingots, slabs, and billets. These categories collectively account for more than 85% of the EU’s aluminium imports from Russia. Adopting this comprehensive approach is crucial for aligning the EU’s actions with those of other G7 international partners. A united stance is essential to effectively isolate the Russian regime economically and halt the financing of its aggression.

“It’s getting harder and harder to justify the continued exclusion of aluminium ingots from the scope of EU sanctions on Russia,” says Paul Voss, Director General at European Aluminium. “We could live comfortably without it, and we should.  This continued omission has allowed Russia to bring in revenue of more than €3.5 billion over the last two years, directly contradicting the G7’s commitment to cut Russian metal revenues. Meanwhile, our downstream producers (e.g. extruders, rollers) in the EU are increasingly at a disadvantage compared to those in other G7 regions like the US, which is already shielded from the influx of semi-finished products made from discounted Russian metal ingots. We urgently need to address this gap to ensure a level playing field and live up to our international commitments. But most importantly, we must stop funding the Russian war machine with revenues from aluminium imports.”

Since the onset of the conflict, the European aluminium industry has proactively reduced its reliance on Russian aluminium. According to EU trade data, aluminium imports of ingots from Russia decreased by 35% last year. This trend continues into early 2024. This reduction has resulted in Russia’s market share now accounting for only about 8% of the EU’s aluminium ingot imports (HS 7601), down from 25% just a few years ago. Without the EU implementing comprehensive measures on Russian ingots, the industry’s efforts to achieve complete decoupling will be hindered. The European value chain could easily substitute the relatively small percentage of Russian metal with increased EU production and imports from elsewhere.

Commenting on the statement from European Aluminium, FIS CEO Iain McIlwee stated: “European Aluminium are right to press the EU on this and I would expect, and we will be calling for UK Government to join in. The UK has rightly taken a strong stance on any imports associated with Russian material, but this is undermined if aluminium and products made from Russian aluminium are still finding their way into the UK via European sources.  I am sure no UK firm would be happy to know that they are inadvertently buying and supplying products, the sale of which is supporting the war in the Ukraine.”

FIS, through our Sustainability Leadership Group has a strategic partnership with the Supply Chain Sustainability School, which offers free advice and training on Responsible Sourcing and how you can manage your risks in this supply chain – this can be accessed here

CLC Latest: Material Supply Chain Group

CLC Latest: Material Supply Chain Group

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.

As the first quarter of 2024 draws to a close the latest report from Construction Leadership Council’s Material Supply Chain Group (formerly Product Availability Group) continues to show good levels of product availability across the board.

The beginning of 2024 has also brought early signs of improvement in construction activity, although housebuilding is expected to be flat for most of the year.

Overall construction activity trended upward in January and February reaching its highest level since August 2023, despite poor weather. The weather is likely to have affected sales volumes through builders’ merchants, which remained static during the first two months of the year. Most regions, however, saw an increase in volumes in March and there are hints of pent-up demand as a handful of regions are showing high levels of sales compared to 2023.

Prices generally have increased by 3 to 4%, which mirrors the wider economy where CPI inflation in January was 4.0%.

Previous concerns about the impact on products normally transported via the Red Sea seem to have dissipated or are manageable. Although some are experiencing increased shipping costs and slight delays in delivery of ironmongery and sanitaryware this is now described as an ‘inconvenience’, and not a major issue.

Separately, the electro-technical sector has flagged concerns about the ongoing geopolitical risks in East Asia and the potential impact on any construction products, plant and tools with chips sourced from that region. The Group is considering adding this issue to its ‘horizon scanning’ and some members are independently analysing the situation.

However, the availability of skilled labour (outlined in the Group’s report of 20 February 2024) remains the most immediate and pressing concern for most in the Group, with several expressing the view that current market conditions have been masking the true scale of this issue, which will be exposed when the market picks up. The Group has shared these concerns with the CLC’s People & Skills Group where they will be taken up in further detail.

Product Platform Rulebook Update

Product Platform Rulebook Update

Delivered as part of the Government’s Transforming Construction programme, the Product Platform Rulebook is a shining example of what can be achieved when government and industry come together to drive change. The Rulebook remains one of the Construction Innovation Hub’s most influential outputs and forms a key enabler for the Infrastructure and Projects Authority’s (IPA) Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP) agenda. Given such potential, it is critical that government and industry find ways to continue this impact now that the Hub’s initial funded period has now concluded.

In this spirit, we are delighted to announce that the Construction Leadership Council will be taking over the reins of the Product Platform Rulebook in 2024 thanks to our new Industrialised Construction workstream. This work will see the Rulebook revised and re-released in the form of a new ‘Platform Playbook’, setting out a clear path to the adoption of platform approaches for social infrastructure delivery. The group is chaired by Ron Lang, former Chief Technical Officer of the Hub and now Regional Director at AtkinsRéalis.

“The Product Platform Rulebook and the concepts it contains present a logical path to a more industrialised, more productive construction sector. But this work is far from complete, and we continue to learn through our collective experiences of applying these concepts in practice. I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead the next step in its development through the CLC and thank my industry peers for continuing to commit their time and expertise for the collective benefit of our sector.”

The decision to pass the Rulebook over to the CLC for update has been warmly welcomed by leading figures within the former Construction Innovation Hub. The Hub’s Programme Director, Keith Waller, believes the Rulebook still has a powerful role to play going forwards:

“Yet another of the Hub’s output has found a new home to drive forward its legacy. Given that our analysis identified that the adoption of platform approaches in construction could unlock long term productivity gains of up to £7.8bn per annum, I am delighted the CLC will now be using its convening power to ensure these benefits can be achieved.”

Steven Yeomans, former Hub programme lead and now Chief Engineer for Construction at the Manufacturing Technology Centre believes the planned update shows what can be achieved through continuing collaboration:

“As the former lead partner of the Hub, we’ll continue to support this ongoing, transformative work through our participation in the CLC’s Industrialised Construction workstream. In doing so, we can enable the construction sector to address performance and productivity challenges.”

The new Platform playbook is expected to be published for comment in November with a series of supporting activities being planned for 2024. For more information, please contact

FIS Wage Rate Survey points to ongoing inflation and contractual pressures

FIS Wage Rate Survey points to ongoing inflation and contractual pressures

The FIS Wage Rate Survey H2 2023 conducted in January 2024 revealed that, across the trades, FIS members have continued to experience wage rate increases averaging around 4% in key trade occupations (the full index is available to contributors only.

The survey also explored some of the concerns that are currently being experienced related to risk dumping through the supply chain.

Commenting on the data FIS CEO Iain McIlwee stated:

“The numbers clearly shows that the supply chain continues to be hit by inflationary pressures.  Some of the contractual issues are also a worry, close to 60% of our specialist members are being asked to sign unfair contracts.  Encouragingly there is evidence here that the Responsible No is being exercised, but the numbers are still out of balance.  There is also evidence that design, programme and compliance risk are increased with over 70% stating that they routinely being asked to take more risk in terms of Design and close to 90% stating the same for programme.  These numbers are not surprising, but they are concerning, especially against the backdrop of rising cost and more limited insurance cover available“.

In 2024 FIS launched the Responsible No Campaign to help bring attention to the pressures that specialists are under and the indiscriminate risk dumping that is evident in parts of the supply chain.

IF you wish to participate in future wage rate surveys, please contact the FIS on and we will make sure you recieve appropriate updates.



Rate of inflation reducing, but costs are still going up warns FIS

Rate of inflation reducing, but costs are still going up warns FIS

The Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) has reported at the start of November that construction materials prices for all work fell by 1.8% in the 12 months to September 2023, according to new figures from the Department for Business and Trade. This was a smaller decrease than the 2.3% drop seen in the year to August 2023.  However this does not mean inflation is over and costs are falling, warns FIS.
Commenting on the data FIS CEO, Iain McIlwee stated:

“Whilst it is encouraging to see the rate of inflation coming down, this index does not necessarily reflect what individual contractors are experiencing on the ground.  Whilst generic data is helpful, the index is broad and there are fairly large differences between the different material types and the headline may not align to the specific products specialists are procuring or deals they may be locked into.

“Beyond this it is important to remember that materials only typically reflect around 30-40% of the cost of construction and we have continued to see wage rate inflation trending high – the FIS Wage Rate and Productivity Survey published this week pointed to continued day rate inflation across all the key trades in our sector.

“The final cost to factor in, is that new regulation is putting pressure on all in the supply chain and the cost of compliance is impacting prelims.

“Looking ahead, the signs seem to be that the period of hyperinflation has passed, but this doesn’t mean real world prices are falling and we cannot be complacent.  The full impact of recent events in the Middle East on energy and material prices remains unknown and just because work may be slowing down in some areas it does not necessarily follow that prices will drop.”


Source: Department for Business & Trade – Monthly Bulletin of Building Materials and Components, Table 1

If you are interested in participating in the FIS Wage Rate Survey and receiving a copy of the data, email (data goes back to 2020, but is only available to contributing companies).
Government survey of critical supply chains

Government survey of critical supply chains

The Department for Business and Trade is asking FIS Product Supplier members to respond to a short survey which is being conducted by their Global Supply Chains and Economic Security Directorate to identify businesses’ experiences of managing their critical supply chains and protecting against disruption.

The pandemic, as well as changes in the global economy, geopolitical environment and climate, have recently increased the frequency and magnitude of both demand and supply shocks to industry globally. Government and industry have worked closely on responding to this challenge over the past few years. Supply chain disruption continues to be a Government priority.

Through this survey, government is seeking to reach those who are responsible for trade and supply chain decisions within your business. All responses to the survey will be anonymised and any report produced will ensure that no individual respondents can be identified.

Click here to access the survey.  It will be open until 17 July 2023.