Omicron ‘likely’ to cause shortages of fresh material, warns CLC | News

The rapid rise in Omicron cases is likely to lead to further material supply issues in the new year, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has warned.

The group said it expects pressure on supply chains to return following the emergence of the new variant of covid-19, despite precautions taken by traders and manufacturers.

The UK recorded its highest number of covid cases yesterday, with 106,000 positive tests. The eight highest daily case figures since the start of the pandemic have all arrived since December 15, according to government figures.

But hospitalizations are currently increasing only slowly. Just over 300 people were hospitalized last week, bringing the total to 8,008.

CLC’s warning came in a joint statement from Builders Merchants Federation CEO John Newcomb and Construction Products Association CEO Peter Caplehorn, who are co-chairs of CLC’s Product Availability Task Force. .

They said that despite the improvements in materials supply seen in all parts of the UK, this is largely due to a seasonal drop in building activity.

The pair added: “We expect pressure to return to supply chains to deliver products as construction activity remains strong next year, with longer lead times and further price increases. planned.

“Furthermore, despite the precautions taken by traders and manufacturers, the rapid increase in Omicron cases is likely to impact production and operations in the new year.”

The products most at risk are bricks and blocks, which remain in short supply due to rising energy prices.

The update says demand is expected to be strong “until 2022”, meaning imports may be needed to fill a gap in UK production until new supplies emerge in 2023/24.

Manufacturers have also flagged the risk of energy costs driving up the price of cement, especially during annual winter maintenance shutdowns when supplies may slump.

Traders are urged not to deplete their stocks, while manufacturers have pledged to produce as much cement as they “physically can”, the statement added.

Meanwhile, demand for tiles remains high with average lead times of 24 weeks, while congestion in Scandinavian ports is likely to lead to reduced supply and higher timber prices.

And the group warned that pressures on global shipping are likely to continue, in addition to the ongoing disruptions caused by China’s “zero covid” policy.

But the statement contained better news about labor shortages in the logistics sector, which it said had eased following additional training programs and government subsidies for truck drivers. .

Newcomb and Caplehorn said higher wages and flexible working are attracting more workers into logistics roles, meaning driver shortages could have less of an impact on construction next year.

Consultant RLB said in its latest tender price forecast that the stockpiling and early ordering of materials by large contractors is causing supply problems for smaller businesses.

The report, published earlier this month, found that tender prices have risen by 4.5% in Manchester this year and 3.75% in London and the South East.