Taking a look into the timber shortage the UK has just tackled and what can be done for the UK timber industry
Since the pandemic there has been no shortage of shortages. No matter which industry you look into, every single one was hit with shortages of one kind or another, whether it was products, staff shortages or a mixture of a few different issues. Product shortages had many causes, from manufacturers unable to produce products at a fast enough speed to keep up with demand, or because of supply chain issues meaning products couldn’t be delivered to where it was needed. Staff shortages were caused by the workforce not being able to go into their place of work whilst isolating or being put on furlough because of the pandemic. No matter which way you looked at it, there were shortages aplenty across every sector.
The construction materials sector was majorly hit by shortages throughout the last few years. The sector was hit hard worldwide, but especially here in the UK. These shortages began at the start of 2021, which led to major supply chain issues for those working on new build sites, self-build, and even renovation sites.
Fortunately, product availability has improved in recent times, especially because of construction materials such as timber. Although this previous shortage has caused other problems for the timber market. Tradespeople still report to have struggled to source materials they need for work in the last year. Amongst the materials that have proved the hardest to source, are timber, paint, steel, glass and bricks. The materials that have become the hardest to source have had their prices raise drastically, making construction projects a lot more expensive due to the materials that need to be used.
Prices keep growing
It’s great news that the availability of timber has improved drastically and is returning to the levels seen prior to the material shortage that the pandemic caused, but there are now other issues involved when sourcing timber in the UK. The price of the material is a rising problem. The business department’s monthly Building Materials and Components Statistics for August 2022 revealed a 24.1% increase for ‘all work’ in July compared to the previous year, while year-on-year repair and maintenance costs rose by 21.9%.
But why has the cost of construction materials as a whole, but especially timber, risen to such high levels?
Since the start of 2021, costs have soared in every aspect. This is due to a combination of price inflation, energy price rises and conflicts around the world which have impacted the construction sector this year. Inflation in the UK is rising at its fastest rate for 30 years, and had reached 10.1% in July, as fuel, energy and food costs surge, and is still forecasted to rise to 18% in 2023.
In June, The Construction Leadership Council said that inflation is likely to persist at a lower level across most material categories for the rest of the year, warning that inflation and the cost-of-living crisis are especially impacting some SME builders. According to the Council, construction output over the summer months of this year has slightly improved the availability of many building materials, although price inflation remains the biggest issue for the entire industry.
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