Scotland’s Property and Construction sector facing ‘critical period’ amid growing political uncertainty

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James Andersen, Property and Construction specialist at Grant Thornton in Scotland

One of Scotland’s leading business growth advisors is warning the country’s property and construction sector faces a critical period as uncertainty over Brexit and a potential second Scottish independence referendum take its toll.

Grant Thornton is calling for greater consultation from political leaders over fears property and construction businesses could lose vital contracts and international funding for future projects.

In 2014, the construction industry raised more than £6.6 billion for the Scottish economy, employing hundreds of thousands of people – from specialised tradespeople to civil engineers and house builders. The sector suffered heavy losses in the global downturn of 2009 and has been slowly regaining lost ground, in part thanks to an increase in major public infrastructure projects and the resilience of the sector.

However, there are fears that political deadlock combined with growing nervousness from overseas investors could create another crisis for firms reliant on long term security and consumer confidence.

James Andersen, Property and Construction specialist at Grant Thornton in Scotland, commented:

“For some time now, Grant Thornton has been warning that the Property and Construction sector needs as much support as possible if it’s to continue growing sustainably. To some extent it’s been a victim of its own success after such a concerted effort to regain lost ground following the global economic downturn in 2009.

“The recent business rates changes, combined with a raft of sweeping tax reforms, and the ongoing skills shortage has created a toxic mix and, quite simply, there is now no room for complacency. Scotland’s property and construction sector contributes billions to the economy and plays a vital role in skilled employment. Public and private sector leaders need to start a dialogue immediately and explore how greater collaboration and a joined-up strategy focused on growth can enable the industry to thrive in the medium to long term.”