Half of UK tradespeople have delayed or refused work because of the materials shortage

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  Posted by: electime      16th August 2022

  • More than three quarters (78 per cent) of tradespeople have struggled to source materials this year
  • New research reveals the 10 materials that workers have found hardest to source
  • Plasterers, surveyors and joiners are the worst affected trades

The materials shortage has plagued the UK trade industry for two years, and now new research has revealed the stark impact this has had on workers in the sector.

The study, conducted by IronmongeryDirect, the UK’s largest supplier of specialist ironmongery, found that more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of tradespeople have struggled to source the materials they’ve needed in the last year.

As a result, almost half (46 per cent) have had to delay or turn down work, and nearly a fifth (19 per cent) have been forced to let customers down after committing to jobs.

When asked which specific materials they’ve found difficult to find, the most common replies were paint (21 per cent), timber (19 per cent) and steel (17 per cent).

The 10 materials that UK tradespeople have found hardest to source in the last year are:


# Material  per cent
1 Paint 21
2 Timber 19
3 Steel 17
4 Blocks 14
5 Bricks 13
6 Coatings 13
7 Semi-conductors 13
8 Plasterboard 12
9 Cement 12
10 Microchips 12


Unfortunately, more than one in five (22 per cent) respondents said that they can’t see the shortage easing anytime soon, and that they believe problems will continue into 2023.

Inflation is the main factor they blame (20 per cent), with record levels driving up prices across the board and affecting the supply chain.

The impact of Coronavirus (17 per cent), rising energy costs (15 per cent) and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (15 per cent) are also perceived to be responsible.

While the shortage has been felt across the industry, some trades have struggled to source materials more than others. The study found that plasterers (92 per cent), surveyors (88 per cent) and joiners (87 per cent) have been hit the hardest.

Roofers, however, are the most likely workers to have had to turn down work (60 per cent) as a result of the issue.

Dominick Sandford, managing director at IronmongeryDirect, said: “The materials shortage continues to be one of the industry’s main challenges, with workers across all trades finding it hard to source what they need to meet the demand for their services.

“The impact is felt in many ways – financially, as many have had to refuse work as a result, but also personally, as our recent Mental Health in the Trades report found that the shortage is one of the main causes of stress for tradespeople in 2022.

“In recent weeks, there have been signs of the situation easing slightly, so hopefully things will continue to improve as the year goes on.”

To see which materials each individual trade has found difficult to source this year, and how prices have increased over time, visit: https://www.ironmongerydirect.co.uk/blog/how-is-the-materials-shortage-affecting-uk-tradespeople