Home Contractor's Corner Workloads and enquiries continue to grow according to NFRC’s latest data

Workloads and enquiries continue to grow according to NFRC’s latest data

The findings from NFRC’s State of the UK Roofing Industry survey for Q1 2024 show roofing contractors’ workloads and enquiries continued to increase in the first three months of the year, with further rises expected over the next 12 months, but also highlights challenges around material cost rises, recruitment challenges and late payment.

The latest NFRC State of the UK Roofing Industry survey, covering the first quarter of 2024, provides welcome positive news for the roofing sector.

The results show overall roofing contractors’ workloads and enquiries continuing to increase in the first three months of the year, with further rises expected over the next 12 months. However, it also reveals that some long-term challenges persist with regards to late payment, recruitment and material costs.

The quarterly survey of National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) Members tracks key indicators such as workload, recruitment, material availability and costs across all regions of the UK. It also looks at trends within both new build and repair, maintenance and improvement (RM&I) across the public, commercial and residential sectors.

Work and enquiries continue to improve
One of the key findings of the latest survey is the continued growth in the demand for roofing services. Overall, a balance of 25 per cent of respondents to the survey reported improved workloads in the first quarter (41 per cent reporting an increase minus the 16 per cent reporting a decline). This marks a significant rise from the 15 per cent balance figure from the previous survey. Increased levels of enquiries for new work were reported by a similar proportion of respondents, with a balance of 27 per cent.

The RM&I sector of the industry had the greatest increases in work, with public, commercial and domestic RM&I all showing strongly positive balance figures of 34 per cent, 32 per cent and 29 per cent respectively. The Members’ outlook was also generally positive for the next 12 months, with 72 per cent foreseeing an increase in work over that period and only 8 per cent expecting a decrease.

The Yorkshire and North East region showed the strongest growth in workload, with 43 per cent overall reporting an increase. This was followed by the North West and Scotland regions with balance figures of 34 per cent and 33 per cent reporting increases respectively. However, the survey also highlighted areas of the UK with less positive market conditions. For example, among those in Wales, 50 per cent said they had experienced a decrease in workload with no respondents reporting an increase.

Challenges remain for the new build sector
The results of this latest survey highlight the continued low levels of activity in residential new build. Among the survey respondents that operate in this sector, 29 per cent reported that their workload had reduced from the previous quarter with just 17 per cent saying it had increased. This negative balance figure of -12 per cent, compared with -10 per cent in the previous quarter, indicates a worsening picture for this area of the industry. While performing slightly better, the public non-residential new build and commercial new build sectors showed only marginal increases in workload (3 per cent and 2 per cent on balance respectively) in the first quarter.

Skills shortages persist
While employment levels remain stable, a further finding of the State of the UK Roofing Industry survey was the reported problems in recruiting the required skilled people. In fact, 53 per cent of firms experienced greater difficulty employing in the first quarter. This is a sizeable increase from the 44 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2023. Roof Slater and Tiler was found to be the most challenging role to fill, with 40 per cent of businesses experiencing issues.

Late payment and rising costs
One of the biggest issues for NFRC Members remains the late payment of invoices. While improvement has been made, only 37 per cent of respondents that have 30-day payment terms with their clients were, on average, paid within that period. Similarly, of those with payment terms of 46 days or more, only 25 per cent reported this was the average time in which they received payment.

While Members indicated continued improvements in the availability of materials, many are experiencing significant material price inflation, with 58 per cent reporting increased prices in the first quarter of the year. A similar proportion (57 per cent) stated they had seen labour costs rise since the start of 2024.

Above: James Talman, NFRC CEO.

Commenting on the results of the latest State of the UK Roofing Industry survey, James Talman, NFRC CEO, said: “At NFRC, we are pleased to see the green shoots of recovery and growing demand in our industry. While some challenges remain, and not every sector is seeing the same boost in workload and enquiries, the continually improving market conditions in recent months shown by the survey findings is a cause for real optimism.

“With a general election set for the beginning of July, these findings also highlight the priorities for any future government wishing to support the vital work of the construction industry. This includes long term commitment to the public sector pipeline, expansion of the RM&I sector in tackling energy efficiency, as well as working closely with the industry to reinvigorate the residential new build sector alongside tighter legislation on prompt payment, which is so vital to SME and sole trader businesses.”

View the full report here.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More