Paul Moore, from Southdale, in Darlington, says steady recovery would be helped by strengthened supply chain

The Northern Echo: Paul Moore Paul Moore

A NORTH-EAST construction and development boss says the supply chain must be strengthened and new workers found to maintain the sector's steady recovery.

Paul Moore, group managing director at affordable housing specialist Southdale, which is based in Darlington, says growth in the supply chain will be a key factor in any successes in 2014.

Mr Moore also said there is a real need to find new workers to plug the region's predicted skills gap.

He said: “2013 has been a much more positive year for us and in the wider construction sector.

“However, there are some unintended consequences of the positivity in the market which need addressing, because of the financial uncertainty in programming they are creating for contractors.

“Throughout the supply chain, shortages brought about by the steady return to health of the construction sector are resulting in demand outstripping supply in many areas.

“An example is in materials, such as bricks, because when the downturn hit, kilns closed, and they have not been re-opened.

“Without some form of action to stabilise the situation it is impossible for people building affordable homes to price a job with any certainty, and there is no going back because our contract costs are fixed, unlike with those building private homes.”

Southdale provides new build, maintenance and refurbishment for registered providers and local authorities, and Mr Moore said a drive to find new workers would benefit it and the wider construction sector.

He said: “A focus also needs to be placed on skills because when construction took a major blow in the recession people migrated from the industry, re-training into other sectors or even moving abroad looking for work.

“The industry lost a lot of capacity and experience, and those people are not coming back.

“We need more training to fill that gap and it will be a slow process, but without that push on skills businesses within the sector will not be able to achieve their potential.

“The growth we are seeing is welcome, but consideration of the issues which surround it need to be carefully considered.”

Earlier this year, Southdale, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013, launched its Greendale eco division to deliver energy efficiency upgrades to homes.

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