Brexit not so bad for building services?

17th October 2016

Most UK companies are holding their breath as the true effects of Brexit are yet to be revealed. According to a new survey from the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and SELECT, the trade association for the Scottish electrical industry, however, it seems that for the building services engineering sector at least, businesses feel strong enough to weather and even gain from the impending storm.

Almost half of survey respondents (46%) believe Brexit will have a positive effect on their company in just five years’ time, with only 19% stating the impact will be negative. 23% felt it would have no impact at all. Despite the general positivity, fears over the rise in material costs was highlighted, a concern raised by 47% of respondents – only 22% believed this wouldn’t happen.

Key to this perceived success, however, is maintaining access to the EU single market, closely followed by more control of employment law and the negotiation of non-EU trade deals.

Migrant workers

Unlike many sectors, building services does not rely heavily on EU workers (92% of respondents stated this) – only 25% felt Brexit would worsen the shortage of qualified employees. For larger contractors (over £20 million turnover) 29% do rely on staff from overseas, so may be more affected if the influx of migrant workers decreases following Brexit.

BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin said:  “Our survey clearly shows that many contractors are conditionally optimistic in the wake of the Brexit vote. In fact, putting these findings alongside the brighter-than-expected data for the UK economy as a whole gives us a much more upbeat feel than could reasonably have been predicted back in June.

“The survey provides extremely valuable feedback about what matters most to contractors as the UK sets about negotiating a new relationship with Europe. As a result, we will draw up an action plan for the building-engineering-services sector to focus our lobbying efforts in the coming months.”

For Guardian, Brexit or not, buildings will continue to need water treatment and air quality services to maintain HVAC efficiency and occupant health and safety. We wait for the outcome of Brexit with intrigue, but, like the majority of recipients in the recent survey, feel confident the impact on our business will be minimal.

Read more about the survey results on BESA’s website: