Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that an end may be in sight for the UK’s brick shortage, which has been hindering the progress of new homes for several years.Overall, production is up seven per cent compared to the same time last year, with almost a billion bricks made in the first half of 2015 - a return to pre-recession levels of production.The problem began when brickmakers scaled back their operations in response to the recession, and had not increased production when housebuilding activity began to grow in 2013 and 2014, as well as continuing into this year.It is believed that the government’s Help to Buy scheme has played a significant role in boosting demand for new houses, as well as general improvement in the UK economy. The need for new affordable homes has also been highlighted by numerous politicians in recent years as part of a bid to solve the current housing crisis.A number of other programmes are also encouraging the UK’s builders to provide more houses, and demand for new commercial premises has risen.The sudden demand caught many suppliers off guard, leading to a significant depletion of reserves. Brick stockpiles dipped as low as 323 million in October 2014, compared to a high of over a billion in 2009. Even during the recession, stock levels were substantially higher than in 2014, with 500 million reported in 2012.Simon Hay, chief executive officer of the Brick Development Association, said: “The brick industry has reacted swiftly in order to meet new demand by increasing brick production by nearly seven per cent in comparison to the same period in 2014, a tremendous effort by a capital-intensive industry.”He added: “Choice in bricks is now possible with reasonable lead in times.” Brick reserves are also up by 33 per cent since the beginning of the year, with 450 million stockpiled at present. This means that projects being held up due to a shortage of the desired bricks should increasingly become a thing of the past.
Brick production rises
--- Ends ---