Driver shortage continues to impact construction supply chain

The Builders Merchants Federation and Construction Products Association in a joint statement said the materials crisis has temporarily eased due to the holiday period and customers delaying or cancelling projects.

The latest statement reveals the lack of availability of drivers is still impacting the materials crisis, despite some relief from the holiday period and customers delaying or cancelling projects.

They said: "Timber, cement, roofing products, bricks, blocks, insulation, steel and cable management systems remain the products in shortest supply, while global shortages of semi-conductors are a cause for concern in the lighting and applicance sectors.

"Although product and material price inflation has slowed, indications are that it will be 2022 before prices stablilise, with some manufacturers still to implement double-digit price increases to recover current and future cost inflation.

"Haulage, however, and the lack of availability of drivers, are now the major concerns affecting distribution with some suppliers asking builders merchants to collect their orders as they cannot get enough drivers to complete deliveries.

"Regional distribution is a particular issue, with some finding challenges arranging deliveries to Scotland and the South West of England."

They added: "Container shipping continues to affect imports. Key ports in China are suffering reduced capacity due to COVID, but the backlog extends beyond China throughout distribution centres worldwide.

"This is forecast to continue through the peak Christmas season into early 2022. With capacity at a premium, container prices remain high; however, these rates are not sustainable in the long term and when demand signals change, we are likely to see prices reduce.

"Looking forward, the group discussed the requirement for aggregates and other key products when HS2 demand is at its peak in 2022/23.

"Projected volumes are being shared with industry trade bodies, key suppliers and the CLC Product Availability Group to help provide greater clarity and confidence about the industry's ability to deliver HS2 as well as all other projects. This is a particular concern for smaller builders, who have struggled to compete for supply during the current period of extraordinary demand."

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