Builders’ confidence crumbles following EU vote

SBF managing director Vaughan Hart. Picture: Michael Gillen
SBF managing director Vaughan Hart. Picture: Michael Gillen
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Confidence among Scottish builders has tumbled to a three-year low in the wake of the Brexit vote amid concerns that some investment decisions could now hit the wall.

Industry bosses have issued a stark warning over the near-term prospects for the industry, which employs thousands of workers and had been enjoying a rebound in activity after being laid low in the wake of the credit crisis.

The latest Scottish Construction Monitor shows confidence levels among employers sliding 22 points to -19. While there have been signs of declining confidence within the industry over the past 12 months after the quarterly survey hit a record peak of +35 in the second quarter of 2015, it is the first time since spring 2013 that the monitor has recorded a negative overall reading.

READ MORE: Brexit worries see dip in construction growth and orders

The poll is conducted by trade association the Scottish Building Federation (SBF), whose membership consists of hundreds of building companies from Orkney to the Borders.

Survey responses were collected during June and respondents were given the opportunity to update their confidence rating following the outcome of the EU referendum last week.

SBF managing director Vaughan Hart said: “The results of our latest quarterly survey reflect much of the informal feedback I have received from individual members. Construction employers are unsettled by the economic volatility we have witnessed following the vote to leave the European Union last week.”

READ MORE: Sturgeon upbeat over first talks on Scots staying in EU

“General uncertainty about the economic outlook has prompted concern that investment decisions could be postponed indefinitely. The potential impact on interest rates also risks provoking a sustained slowdown of activity across different sectors of the property market.”

He added: “If the current economic volatility is sustained over a longer period of time, the UK Treasury may be forced to take evasive action come the time of the autumn statement with a knock-on impact on the Scottish Government’s budget and on local government funding.”