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British Columbia

Builders’ workloads continue to decline in Wales as belts tighten, announces FMB Cymru

In the latest State of Trade Survey by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), Welsh builders have reported a sharp drop in workloads and inquiries over the final months of 2022.

The survey shows that growth in workload, inquiries and employment continues to slow, with inquiries and employment in negative territory and workload not far behind. This means that across the UK, more construction companies are reporting a drop in inquiries and new hires compared to the number which is showing an increase.

New data for Wales points to a sharp fall in workload for Welsh builders where it has reached -8% compared to 18% in the third quarter. The drop has also hit inquiries with numbers down -8% compared to 27% last quarter, suggesting there has been a significant drop in construction companies reporting increased workloads compared to last quarter. Small local builders will look to the Westminster Spring Budget to see if there is a long-term plan to ensure stability and growth are restored.

The FMB State of Trade Survey, published quarterly, is the longest-running survey of its kind to track the experiences of small and medium-sized (SMEs) construction companies in the UK. The latest survey for Q4 2022 revealed:

Activities in the Welsh Market

  • -8% of builders reported an increase in enquiries, up from 27% in Q3.
  • There is a decrease in the workload for Welsh builders, also -8% compared to 18% in the third quarter.

Market Conditions in the UK

  • Both workload and inquiries have decreased on balance in all sectors in Q4 2022 compared to Q3 2022.
  • In terms of total inquiries, 41% of FMB members reported a decrease in Q4 compared to Q3 2022, while only 29% said it increased.
  • Residential construction activity has decreased by 17% from 1% to -18% compared to Q3 2022. Reported inquiries for new housing projects fell by 11% from -8% to -19%.


  • 15% of FMB members report an increase in the number of employees within their company’s workforce in the fourth quarter of 2022, while 19% reported that it decreased.
  • About a third of FMB members struggle to recruit carpenters, bricklayers and general workers (39%, 35% and 30% respectively).


  • 89% of FMB members reported an increase in material costs in Q4 2022.
  • 85% of respondents expect material costs to increase in the first quarter of 2023.
  • 70% of builders have increased their labor rates.

Ifan Glyn, Director of FMB Cymru said: “These results indicate a worrying trend. In the face of a housing crisis and the urgent need to improve the energy efficiency of our homes, our builders are firing on all cylinders. Lack of access to skilled labor and volatile material costs are the last things builders need. We all need to redouble our efforts to solve these problems as they affect the industry’s ability to deliver. Failure to do so will have far-reaching consequences for communities across Wales.”

Notes for editors

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry, representing thousands of companies across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The FMB was founded in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized (SMEs) construction companies. It is independent and not-for-profit, and champions the interests of its members at both national and local levels.

The FMB is a source of knowledge, professional advice and support for its members, offering a range of modern and relevant business building services to help them succeed. The FMB is committed to improving quality in the construction industry and offers consumers a free Find-a-Builder service.

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