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46% of UK tradespeople have delayed or refused work because of the materials shortage

Published: 23 August 2022 - Neil Mead

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


The study, conducted by IronmongeryDirect, the UK’s largest supplier of specialist ironmongery, found that 46% of UK tradespeople have had to delay or refuse work as a result of the shortage.

The materials that tradespeople have struggled to source the most are:

  1. Paint
  2. Timber
  3. Steel
  4. Blocks
  5. Bricks

Across all trades, more than three-quarters (78%) of workers have struggled to source the materials they’ve needed in the last year. 

As a result, almost half (46%) of tradespeople have had to delay or turn down work, and nearly a fifth (19%) 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%), timber (19%) and steel (17%). 

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



Unfortunately, more than one in five (22%) 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%), with record levels driving up prices across the board and affecting the supply chain. 

The impact of Coronavirus (17%), rising energy costs (15%) and the war in Ukraine (15%) 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%), surveyors (88%) and joiners (87%) have been hit the hardest. 

For plasterers, getting hold of cement was their main challenge, whereas steel and coatings were the top issues for surveyors and joiners respectively. 

Roofers, however, are the most likely workers to have had to turn down work (60%) as a result of the shortage. According to the roofers in the study, ceramics and steel have been most difficult to purchase, but there have also been reports of long waiting lists for tiles, insulation and membranes. 

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.” 

To see which materials each individual trade has found difficult to source this year, and how prices have increased over time, visit: 


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