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Will Brexit affect the plumbing and heating industry?


With Brexit well underway and new rules applying to various sectors of our nation such as doing business and travelling. A lot of details are still emerging and that is why business leaders and government ministers are still discussing matters pertaining to our withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

The plumbing and heating industry is also not exempt from the implications of Brexit and there are numerous factors that we need to monitor. How these factors will impact us will depend on the structure of each enterprise, although any shift on the prices of equipment is something that affects any sector on a global scale.

Modification of deep-rooted methods of the supply chain. Initially, it would seem that only the suppliers with manufacturing capacity here in the country are the least affected by the change because their enterprise is not dependent on trade deals outside of the UK. However, a large chunk of manufacturers that supply the plumbing and heating industry are owned by foreign entities. Even though they have workforces and facilities that are based here in the UK, these are only a small segment of their company’s overall operations.

In general, we can all assume with certainty that the UK market will continue to be an essential target market for boiler manufacturers as this segment of the market accounts for more than a million new boilers each year. 

Rate of plumbing and heating components or equipment. Like other commercial enterprises, there are reasonable concerns on how the rates of raw materials and equipment that are obtained from abroad will be affected by our withdrawal from the EU. This means our trade deals are no longer under the EU guidelines which could lead to the rise of costs for imported raw materials.

A lot of plumbing and heating products are produced by enterprises outside of the UK and this means the industry could be facing various challenges with the prospect of increased costs for raw materials, components or equipment. Even small plumbing items such as valves, fittings, pumps and pipes can be affected, although how much the prices will fluctuate is still uncertain.

Mandates for health and safety. Many of those who opted for Brexit did so in an effort to eliminate or minimise red tape and take control over some troublesome legislation and regulations that affect the industry as a whole. A lot of people have speculated that this is one of the major drivers that hastened the Brexit process, as numerous debates have been made about taking control over the policies that heavily influence the operations of numerous enterprises.

As a matter of fact, it is unlikely that any major changes will be implemented in the regulations for health and safety, except for minor changes dealing with the removal of EU references. Our country has been established as a world-leader in health and safety standards and it is unlikely that people would want to change these standards and negatively impact their trade and investment. 

Standards of customer support. With the culmination of Brexit, some suppliers may prefer to keep their manufacturing operations within the EU. In preparation for Brexit, major banks have downsized their operations, leaving numerous businesses in our country thinking about the future of their operations and facilities. This could lead the manufacturers of plumbing and heating equipment to upgrade their EU manufacturing operations to continually supply a major chunk of the UK market. 

Any changes to the operations of such enterprises shouldn’t impact the plumbing and heating industry drastically, but the circumstances should be observed, supervised and tracked, especially by the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council or HHIC.

Recruitment of skilled workers from other countries. Unlike smaller enterprises, larger heating and plumbing companies have been recruiting workers from outside of the UK. With Brexit putting restrictions on the free movement of workers from Europe, British skilled workers may have an opportunity to showcase their proficiency. 

This could however result in a decrease in skilled heating and plumbing installers, the increase in demand for installers and the increase of salaries within this trade. Businesses can take advantage of the Apprentice Levy to hire workers and help them gain the necessary skills. 

The other side of the coin could be the cost of services and projects. An increase in the cost of labour and raw materials could potentially affect our nation’s ability to carry out various  infrastructure projects. 

Our government needs to decide how closely we need to align our legislation with the EU market. For the time being, it seems unwise to digress too far as our heating and plumbing sector has already invested money and time to comply with various legislations in the past, but as long as the effect of Brexit can be closely monitored, issues can be addressed immediately and developments can be allowed to grow significantly.

Although it is still too early to comprehend the overall impact of Brexit, the current indicators suggest that our plumbing and heating industry needs to examine how this will affect the manufacturing, movement, acquisition and pricing of raw materials, equipment, components and labour, while sustaining present developments that will improve our future. 

As a summary, the real impact of Brexit on the enterprises of the UK is still uncertain and we can only speculate as to what exactly will happen. As we enter the final stages of our withdrawal from the EU, more information can be collected. Within the data foundation, we can find ideas on how to improve and keep the business of plumbing and heating afloat and thriving.

However, by being aware of the initial changes brought about by Brexit, we can anticipate the impact of raw material price fluctuations and the restrictions applied to recruiting overseas employees numerous businesses.

If you want to know more about plumbing, heating, boiler repair or service, water treatment and bathroom installation from the perspective of a local tradesman, get in touch with the experts of CentraHeat on 01793 878 636 or 07739 357 617. You can also drop an email to today!

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