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Lack of EU workers drives up London's construction costs

Average earnings on London building sites showed a 4.5% month-on-month increase in May to £885 a week, according to construction payroll data from Hudson Contract.

The firm is the UK's largest payer of freelance site workers with more than 2,500 companies across England and Wales on its books. Managing director Ian Anfield attributed wage inflation in the capital to a reduction in migrant EU labour. “We are starting to see the impact of people leaving the UK ahead of the EU settlement scheme deadline on 30 June and not being replaced by incomers. First and foremost, this is affecting London which has the highest concentration of foreign construction workers and the most transient labour market.”

He said central London's prime housing market was growing again for the first time since the start of the pandemic reflecting “high spirits” across the sector. The data showed site workers weekly wages outside London were buoyant too with the East Midlands showing a month-on-month 1.7% rise on weekly earnings to £954 - a 17.2% year-on-year increase.

The West Midlands was another hotspot with sub-contractor’s weekly earnings increasing month-on-month by 3.5% to £920 in May. Wales showed a month-on-month 2.8% increase brining weekly earnings to £887 - an 8.7% year-on-year rise.

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