Brexit, the ‘pingdemic’ and high demand is causing a UK tradespeople shortage

The wait for trades is now longer than ever
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  • If you’ve attempted to hire any tradespeople lately, you’ll know just how hard it is right now. There are many factors at play, with trades and key materials in short supply.

    This is partly due to recent shop closures and Covid travel restrictions causing import delays. But now the so-called ‘pingdemic’ combined with some Brexit-related supply issues means Brits are having to wait longer than ever to source materials and to get home improvement projects off the ground.

    tradespeople taking measurements

    Image credit: Getty

    Trade companies app Powered Now tells us that many workers are being told to isolate, having been pinged by the NHS Track and Trace app. As a result, the average wait for a private job is now more than three months.

    ‘It’s so hard to get trades out to give you a quote for a job,’ says homes journalist Laura Crombie, who is currently renovating her home. ‘Then you’re waiting months and months for the work to get started.’

    She tells us that she and her husband have also struggled to get anyone in to do smaller jobs in their home. As a result, the DIY savvy pair have learned how to renovate on a budget and have been far more hands-on than they’d originally planned. Laura and her husband Rian even redecorated their formerly dark and dated bathroom from top to bottom.

    bricklayer laying bricks

    Image credit: Getty

    Ideal Home editor Heather Young echoes Laura. ‘We’re trying to get a kitchen extension project off the ground but it’s taking so much longer than we expected,’ she says. ‘The good tradespeople are so in demand we’re struggling to even get people round to quote – they all have long waits (most are three weeks plus).

    ‘Luckily the work we want to do isn’t urgent, but it’s a challenge to keep the momentum and enthusiasm up when every tiny step forward takes so long,’ she says.

    The increased demand for tradespeople, sparked by a fresh interest in our homes and project planning, has created jobs within the construction industry. But with large swathes of the workforce told to self-isolate, demand far exceeds supply.

    tradesman with a spirit level

    Image credit: Getty

    The aging construction workforce compounds the problem given that many UK tradespeople are of retiring age, and fewer people are now entering the profession.

    Brexit has only made things worse, as many materials used by trade and construction workers are made elsewhere in Europe. When Covid hit, almost all countries experienced shortages in stock. But as manufacturers begin to refill the supply chains, they have been prioritising those that are closer to home first, as the UK falls to the back of the queue.

    The cost of some key construction materials like timber and chipboard has also shot up. It sounds like we’d better brush up on our DIY and decorating skills and see what we can do ourselves.

    With that three-month wait, it could be worth getting started early on the dream home moodboarding…

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