Preparing for Brexit in the social housing sector

With the changes that Brexit will present, there is likely to be an impact on temporary workforces within the housing sector. This is because recruiters are increasingly looking to EU nationals to fill skills shortages.

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With the changes that Brexit will present, there is likely to be an impact on temporary workforces within the housing sector. This is because recruiters are increasingly looking to EU nationals to fill skills shortages. Through establishing high quality talent pools of potential workers from contract commencement, and working with stakeholders to identify potential candidates who can be up-skilled; REED supports our clients dealing with the upcoming potential unavailability of candidates.


  • According to statistics, the UK’s unemployment rate is likely to increase once a deal has been struck (if a deal is struck) to 6.5% due to recession, which is a loss equivalent to 500,000 jobs
  • The latest figures say that there are currently 2.1 million European immigrants working in the UK. Where there are shortages of skilled workers in the UK, immigrants from the European Union are filling the void by bringing in vital skills. They are also a major contributor to the unskilled labour market
  • EU workers currently make up 7% (2.1 million) of the UK workforce overall. This rises to 15% in low-skilled roles, includes 33% of workers in food manufacturing and 18% in warehousing and transport activities
  • Net migration of EU nationals to the UK is falling – ONS figures for year ending March 2018 show a statistically significant fall in net migration from the EU (down 51,000 from the previous year)
  • Leaving the EU is likely to make trade with EU more difficult and expensive. With 53 EU deals to replace, and 72 more in process of negotiation, there is an urgent need to ramp up government capacity and capability

Housing sector

  • 10% of EU workers fill admin clerical roles within the UK
  • Nationwide, 15% of bricklayers, 25% of general labourers and almost 18% of finishing trades, which include plasterers, painters, roofers and decorators, come from the EU
  • The survey by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) on more than 1,000 housebuilding sites, underlines the extent of UK sites’ reliance on overseas workers. The federation said its report was the first extensive survey of the sector and showed that builders would need continued access to skilled EU workers following Brexit to deliver the government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year
  • Demand for housing means the government has committed to delivering an average of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s
  • A number of factors are making the UK a less attractive work destination. The fall in sterling has reduced the value of potential earnings and, with construction projects picking up in other parts of Europe, the UK is no longer the first choice for construction workers

How REED is preparing


REED is hard at work preparing our organisation for the potential pitfalls of Brexit. Within housing, we are firmly reviewing our recruitment process methodology within this sector to ensure that, regardless of the Brexit decision, we are still able to have a market-leading attraction, sourcing and selection process in place for our housing clients.

Think tank

Additionally, we have established an internal Brexit think tank which monitors the situation around Brexit discussions and deals scrupulously. They will inform our account management team and consultants for all housing clients of any upcoming changes and impacts to ensure that service will carry on and ‘business as usual’ will not be impacted.

Compliance management

Our service delivery is underpinned by our company-wide commitment that goes beyond legislation. We are committed to the principle that compliance is not enough; our solution assesses and addresses the spirit of legislation and its public perception. Our dedicated account team therefore maintains frequent contact with our central legislation and legal teams to evaluate the potential impact of upcoming regulatory changes, including those associated with Brexit. We are committed to this continued shared practice to ensure our service fully aligns itself with current legislation. We also equip our account management teams to provide client stakeholders with industry advice, across current and future legislation.

Talent pooling

Having access to Europe’s largest talent database of 15+ million candidates, we are fully prepared to source top talent for housing sector clients even in the face of potential skill shortages. We have vast talent pools of candidates able to meet requirements across any and all potential roles within the housing sector market.

Potential impact

Though the final outcome for Brexit is no clearer, there have already been some noticeable trends including a skills shortage in some sectors due to decreased levels of migration to the UK from continental Europe. There may also be a wider economic impact from Brexit that effects employment levels and candidate availability as well as potential impacts on the banking sector due to issues such as EU passporting that have yet to be resolved.

However, it is important to remain vigilant and keep abreast of the continuous changes that are being debated throughout parliament and across Europe in regard to Brexit. We encourage all our clients to follow political and legislative events closely as these will impact on business.

As yet, no one knows what the potential fallout from Brexit will be and, while it is important to remain proactive, there is little for the time being that organisations can do to brace for Brexit as no one is certain of the outcome.

Lee Gudgeon
Managing Director

Lee Gudgeon is the Managing Director of Reed Talent Solutions. Lee has over twenty years experience implementing successful recruitment solutions both in the UK and internationally. Lee enjoys identifying resourcing challenges and designing innovative, bespoke solutions that add value. He is a firm believer in keeping things simple and maintaining a focus on delivering real, tangible results.

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