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Wanted: 1.4bn bricks to fix housing crisis

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A massive bricks shortage is preventing housebuilding and sending prices soaring.

A shortage of brick supply has been a contributing factor in rising house prices over the past decade, as growing demand continues to outstrip availability of housing, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

In its ‘Bricks Report’, compiled with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, it claims that the UK’s construction sector would require a total of 1.4 billion bricks in order to resolve the housing shortage in the UK.

This is the equivalent of the total amount which would be needed to build all the houses in Leicestershire.

Growing demand 

Between 2006 and 2016, the growing UK population triggered exponential growth in demand, and has now outgrown the number of houses being built. Given that in 2016 the average UK home is made up of 5,180 bricks, resolving the housing shortage of 264,000 units would require 1.4bn bricks.

This major bricks deficit could in theory build 740 Big Bens, 3,090 Manchester Town Halls, or 5,830 Conwy Castles.

Bricks and Brexit

The impact of Brexit could significantly worsen the issue. In 2015, 85% of all imported clay and cement (primary brick components) came from the EU, and so depending on how trade negotiations develop, Brexit could have a considerable impact on supply, said the NAEA.

Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA, said: “We all know that the massive lack of supply in housing is an issue that needs resolving urgently. As well as freeing up more land to ensure we can build the right sort of houses in the right places, it’s crucial we have the right materials and skills to do so. It seems a simple consideration but the fact that we don’t have enough bricks to meet demand has a very real effect and holds up the process from beginning to end.

“We’re concerned that the impact of the EU Referendum means this problem could get worse as we rely on the import of brick components from the EU and of course many of our skilled labourers come from there too.”