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Is the housing crisis built on a shortage of bricks?

Friday 16 September 2016

Estate agents and brick-builders are at loggerheads over claims that an acute shortage of bricks has contributed to the shortfall in house building.
 
According to the National Association of Estate Agents, 1.4 billion bricks are needed to plug Britain’s deficit of 264,000 new homes.
 
They claim that two thirds of small to medium sized construction firms were left waiting for two months for new supplies of bricks in 2015, while 25 per cent faced a four month wait.
 
NAEA director Mark Hayward also pointed to the need to free more land, as well as readier access to materials and skills, following a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
 
He said: “The fact that we don't have enough bricks to meet demand has a very real effect and holds up the process from beginning to end.”
 
The claim has been slammed as a ‘lazy analysis’ by the Brick Development Association, which represents 99 per cent of brick manufacturers in the UK.
 
Brick production appears to have increased: in the second quarter of 2016 it was 10.4 per cent higher than in the first quarter, while stocks of bricks in January to March were 39.9 per cent higher than in the first three months of 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
 
At the same time, the number of new homes completed in the second quarter of 2016 fell by 2 per cent compared to the same period in 2015.
 
Brick stocks currently stand at 628 million, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
 
The brick-making industry was hit by the financial crisis of 2008 when house building slowed, but it has since staged a recovery.
 
The difference between the increase in households and building stock – the building shortfall – has been growing for over a decade, says the CEBR in its report.
 
As demand for housing outstrips supply, the BTL industry continues to play a key role in the provision of desperately-needed accommodation. 

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