A brick shortage

Whilst official forecasters and the clever moaners were telling us of a housing collapse in the UK after the Brexit vote, we saw instead continued increases  in new housebuilding, strong demand, and a brick shortage.

UK brick capacity was slashed from 2.6bn bricks a year in 2007 to 2bn as a result of the crash. The Great recession led to many brick kiln and plant closures and reminds us of how much damage this did. In recent years as a result the  UK has turned to importing more bricks from the continent whilst we await new plant investment to replace the lost output and meet our domestic demand.

Bricks are heavy items to transport, so the imported product has to carry the extra costs of long distance journeys. It is taking time to rebuild UK capacity, though Ibstock are currently putting in a 100m brick plant which should come on stream soon.

Building materials generally is an area where the UK can and should do more to substitute home production for imports given the transport cost advantage of home output. It is also the case that builders often prefer to buy locally as it reduces threats to their supplies which distant factories and busy roads and ferries can create.

Brexit will offer us many opportunities to substitute home production for EU exports, especially in food if they opt for the WTO model with tariffs.

Meanwhile today the Bank of England which last cut rates when the data was strong and did not justify it will probably raise rates when the data does not justify it. The Bank has slowed the economy by other means this year.

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108 Comments

  1. Freeborn John
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    It is difficult to believe the staggering incompetence of the current generation of politicians. Voting to reveal the UK hand to the EU! You could not make that up. The Prime MInister gambling with Brexit by calling a general election. Paying many tens of billions for a “transitional deal” with the EU which really means staying in on current terms and then gaining no leverage from that all money for later talks on a future trading relationship. More rights for EU citizens in the UK than British citizens. Delegations of parliamentarians heading to Brussels to collude with it against the UK. A Chancellor ignoring the day-job while he devotes his working hours to undermining Brexit. Pure, total, utter and complete incompetence amounting to contempt of the Electorate.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Two MPs made good points about leaks from committees:

      https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-11-01/debates/62139AE8-AA75-42F7-85D3-BB50087ACEFB/ExitingTheEUSectoralImpactAssessments#contribution-8D18961A-781E-4E84-B431-5E81456272EB

      “I sit on the Select Committee on Transport and, despite having sat for only a few weeks, the Chair, the hon. Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood), has already twice had to warn Committee members not to leak documentation.”

      https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-11-01/debates/62139AE8-AA75-42F7-85D3-BB50087ACEFB/ExitingTheEUSectoralImpactAssessments#contribution-58803812-1B09-4A3B-8C35-248503CA73E9

      “There is, I am afraid, a history of confidential material leaking out of Select Committees. Although the Chair of the Select Committee, the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), said that he would seek to prevent any confidential material leaking out, that has happened on a number of occasions in the recent past. In 2012, a Culture, Media and Sport Committee report on phone hacking was leaked. In 2016, a Select Committee report on arms export controls was leaked to “Newsnight.” In 1999, a social security report was leaked to Gordon Brown’s then Parliamentary Private Secretary. Robin Cook received a leak in 1999 in relation to the Foreign Affairs Committee, and in 2013 a Public Accounts Committee report on Wonga was leaked to Wonga. So there are legitimate concerns about whether material given to a Select Committee will necessarily remain confidential.”

      Personally I would look at the stance towards Brexit which has been taken by an MP before deciding whether or not they can be trusted, and it is obvious that some of them are primarily loyal to the EU and should not be trusted an inch with any confidential information.

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      And a Home Office waving in illegals and allowing them to abscond.

      This contempt was going on before Brexit – in fact caused it.

      Stop voting Tory.

      Corbyn will not be any worse.

  2. Mark B
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    If our kind host allows

    https://www.bmf.org.uk/BMF/Policy___Public_Affairs/Campaigns/Likeatonofbricks.aspx

    It seems local authorities and government are also a factor.

    Under and over supply will always occur in a market where there is some form of uncertainty. Look at Heathrow

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Indeed I have had developments detailed (and the cost increased due to) pre-commencement planning conditions set by local authorities over the type of brick to be used in building. Some planning officers insist on exact matches (regardless of availability) despite acceptable alternatives being in stock.

      This is not the only damage that planning officers often cause – the OTT greencrap they force on to developers costs a great deal, delays the build and often makes the building rather inferior too – with small windows, thicker walls and the likes.

    • David Murfin
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      “They vary depending on design, fashion or location. ”
      ‘Location’ = the nature of the clay from which they are made, which affects appearance and properties such as strength.
      “Bricks are sometimes not immediately available without a few months’ wait for them to be made.”
      Note the word ‘wait’. It doesn’t take months to make a brick, one of the simplest manufactured products. Waiting may be down to lack of capacity, in the worst case because the original brickworks has shut down.

    • acorn
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Good article at “Bricks and Blocks – will 2017 see more supply issues? – Alsford Timber”, where it reads “A shortage of pulverised fuel ash (PFA). PFA is a key raw material for the production of many aerated concrete products. A by-product of coal-fired power generation, stocks have been depleted through a combination of low gas prices, a mild winter, and green initiatives […] The rise of multinational corporations. Nearly all large UK building material manufacturers are now part of international groups, potentially making them less responsive to the UK market.

    • Hope
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      It strikes me May, Rudd and others are three bricks short of a load. Another remainer to cabinet. Rudd critising the police for asking for more money when she is responsible for the three terror attrocities this year by failing to make us safe and secure or adequately enforcing th laws and powers introduced to so call stop these events. Not sure how giving the FSA the right to look at our emails helps prevent terrorism.

      All this sensationalism about sexism when all parties had a chance to introduce proper regulation and oversight in 2009 after the expense scandal and sleaze. MPs must stop policing themselves is the key to reforming the bahviour and standards at Westminster. Proper Right to recall required and needed. We read how all receipts and documents to be shredded before 2011!

      Labour not attacked for its front bench sitting in segregated audiences or addressing segregated audiences, how more sexist can this be? (named Labour links removed as do not recognise some of the content ed) Why is your party and the media not slamming their behaviour? Good to see Guido is.

  3. Duncan
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Forget bricks John. We’re gonna need more than brick building capacity to sort out the mess that your party has created for itself on Brexit and while I am at it. When are the political attacks on white, heterosexual men going to stop or are the feminist clans in both parties about to step up their war against us?

    Advice to all Tory MP’s. Do not choose a feminist as your next leader for they might destroy you. May will use the current misandrist inspired witch-hunt in British politics and wider society to replace white men with more women and non-white. May’s embraced Labour’s identity politics with gusto and white Tory backbenchers like Phil Davies, who I admire, will become targets

    Bricks? We’re gonna need more than bricks. The Tories need a proper leader, anti-EU instincts and an appetite for confrontation rather than cowering away like some child in the corner

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      I agree fully. Why do we have tax borrow and waste, red tape spewing, climate alarmist, PV socialists in numbers 10 and 11. People more concerned with pathetic virtue signalling than running the economy properly or for example sorting out all the thousands of avoidable deaths in the NHS or getting a criminal justice system that deterred crime rather than encouraging it.

      The objection I have to more women in the Cabinet is the generally dire quality of most of the backbench female MPs we have. Kemi Badenoch perhaps the one exception.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

        Sorry I meant ‘PC socialists in nos 10 % 11’.

        The only females in government who seem to me to be up to their jobs are Patel and Leadsom.

    • eeyore
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      Who can doubt we’re living through a sea change in public morality? Presumably it’s something to do with the increasing profile and power of women in a society no longer much in need of traditional masculine abilities.

      The media and public are in one of their occasional and rather absurd fits of morality. So long as the realities of human nature are remembered, that’s probably no bad thing. Insofar as they’re ignored, the scent of humbug fills the air.

      Already we hear calls for rules and regulations to tell people how to behave at Westminster. I hope not. Honourable Members should be guided by their own sense of honour, not a legalistic framework to be gamed and evaded.

      • Anonymous
        Posted November 3, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        “no longer much in need of traditional masculine abilities.”

        Err. Yes they are in need of them. It’s just that they are allowed to diminish what men do from their talking shops.

        The country’s going down the pan big time, hadn’t you noticed ?

        Male trades are paid better than ever, because there are fewer taking them up.

    • Ms Oginishta
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Mrs May is right, more women should get some work done.

    • James Doran
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      It’s going to be bricks for some time Duncan. If not bricks then it will be Catalonia, or the minutiae of Brexit negotiations, perhaps a posting on broadband cables running alongside railways. If you’re looking for someone to put forward, or robustly defend, conservative policies it won’t be a member of the Conservative party.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Re “replace white men with more women and non-white” yea but normally women and non-white from public schools… this high a proportion of public school people IS NOT DIVERSITY

      Indeed far too many who have done nothing but work in politics or the public sector too.

      We need a proper meritocracy across all walks of life.

      As for the sex thing, I would suggest similar is true of most walks of life. I certainly don’t think people getting drunk together should expect perfect behaviour from those next to them. I dont think people should live in fear of their excess in their college years (whether they went to college or not) for the rest of their life. And I dont want a normal cross section of people from being discouraged from going into politics, its already biased enough away from normality.

      There are certainly double standards between those with power and those without, as countless examples show.

      Its a mess, what we are really lacking is coherent joined up message of what we are aiming for in society. The politicians are all over the place.

    • Bob
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      @Duncan
      Do you remember the Two Ronnies sketch series “The Worm that Turned”?

      Prophetic or what?

      • Mitchel
        Posted November 3, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        I remember it well…hilarious!

        I’m not sure who could play the Diana Dors role but I can see plenty of candidates for the Ronnie Corbett teaboy position.

        (It can be found on youtube for those who don’t remember!)

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      It would have been far less of a mess had Remainers aligned themselves behind the referendum result as they had promised.

      • Anonymous
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        In any case. A brick shortage is the very last thing that Remainers told us we were going to get.

    • Glenn Vaughan
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      No shortage of bricks in the House of Commons Duncan, hence the phrase “as thick as a brick”.

    • ale bro
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      feminism is not the same as sexual assault – not sure why you are conflating the two

  4. John Soper
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I’m not surprised you want to talk about bricks, after Liam Fox yesterday confessed that the UK is getting nowhere in trying to persuade third countries to “roll over” existing deals with the EU to the UK after Brexit. Yet another of your promises broken! SECOND REFERENDUM NOW!

    • Nig l
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      There are none so blind than those that cannot see. Even if we forget your broken promises of Project Fear, in reality either lies or a frighteningly capacity to be totally wrong, I have been listening to broken promises on the EU for umpteen years, red lines, reform, ‘they get it’ reduced budget payments, recognising the nation state, slowing federalism, no EU army, no move to make joining the EU mandatory etc.

      Pots and kettles. Sir, look in the mirror of truth for a change with your eyes open.

    • Edward2
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Perhaps best of five or carry on until you get the result you want.
      Many polls show a majority who will vote leave.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      You’ve made that up. Fox said nothing of the sort, I’ve just read the verbatim text of the exchanges. For example:

      —-

      “Fox said he has “not had any indication from any of trading partners in those countries” that they did not want to continue trading with the UK on the same terms as they do currently.

      Fox said the text of the current EU trade deals would be used as the basis for any agreement, adding: “We have had initial discussions with them and we are now beginning to get more granular with the most important ones of them and as we go through the process we will get closer to agreements. When we’ve got the agreements with the biggest we will work our way through the others. Hopefully finishing them all by the time we leave the EU.”

      Falconer, who was appearing alongside Fox, added: “They have agreed that that’s what they intend to do.

      So how does that count as “getting nowhere” ?

      The Project Fear approach is getting rather tedious as it seems to be based purely on perpetuating lies. If you could name a single country that has said they won’t be rolling over their existing deal you might have a shred of credibility.

      NO SECOND REFERENDUM !

    • James Doran
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      As soon as the resistance to Brexit started there should have been a second referendum; something along the lines of ‘Are you sure you want the U.K. to leave the EU’. I believe to leave vote would have gone up to about 60%.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Why not have a “best of three”?

      Sarcasm…

    • Twitterer
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      Do you want a Soft Second Referendum or a Hard Second Referendum, that’s the point. You sound like you would like a really hard one

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      And what if that’s 52:48 for Remain ?

      Best of three ? Or do we keep going until it’s Remain.

      • Anonymous
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Remainers *promised* to support the referendum result when they took part in it. Instead they’ve made us look very weak and divided.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted November 3, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

          A once in a generation decision, they said in their leaflets.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Right, it seems that there is no official transcript as yet but here is the recording of yesterday’s proceedings of the International Trade Committee:

      http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/international-trade-committee/news-parliament-2017/work-of-department-liam-fox-evidence-17-19/

      so please will you tell me exactly where Liam Fox “confessed that the UK is getting nowhere in trying to persuade third countries to “roll over” existing deals with the EU to the UK after Brexit”.

      As you have made this claim, you must back it up with a precise reference.

      Of course it may be a significant obstacle to the speedy conclusion of any “roll over” agreements that your friends in the EU are refusing to allow any discussions about trade until they have convinced themselves they have maximised the sums they have managed to extort from the UK.

      I’m glad you end your comment with “SECOND REFERENDUM NOW!”, as that is far more honest than the pretence of many of your fellow Remoaners that they do “respect the result of the referendum” and are not trying to find ways to delay and obstruct and ultimately prevent Brexit.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        From 10.36 in the video Liam Fox refers to the frustration that the UK has not been able to even start negotiations with these non-EU countries, a frustration actually shared by some international investors in countries such as Japan who have pointed out that it’s not just about the UK’s access to the European market, it’s also about the EU’s access to the UK market as the world’s fifth largest economy. And it is entirely the fault of your EU chums that this level of uncertainty is still persisting unnecessarily, when it could be easily resolved if they were pragmatic politicians rather than half-crazed ideologues.

    • libertarian
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Soper

      As your beloved EU takes in excess of 10 years to negotiate trade deals with minor countries and has failed totally to negotiate a trade deal at all with leading nations such as the USA , getting a hissy fit about the state of rollover trade deals 18 months BEFORE we leave the EU makes you look silly

  5. Nig l
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Re the Bank, many think the Philips model is now broken and someone said targeting inflation was like steering with a broken compass needle. No surprise that the B o E is ploughing on with its usual aristocratic obduracy.

    Re the bricks, I have never heard a builder discuss where they came from. Price and availability is all they are interested in. What they do discuss is Brickies. Availability, keeping them on site etc. Remainers who quote labour shortages as a reason to stay in the market might like to read about a recent development with robot bricklaying that would make them nearly all redundant, indeed ally that with a rise in pre fabrication, this is what HMG should pushing, and you have a real positive ‘disrupter’ for the industry.

  6. Iain Moore
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Isn’t this the story of British manufacturing , where capacity is slashed on any downturn , leaving us needing to import when there is a recovery? A story of no faith in Britain, no faith in British people, and flog it off to the highest bidder.

    • am
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      like – liam fox was right

    • old salt
      Posted November 11, 2017 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      If there weren’t so many gimmigrants would there not be a brick shortage?

  7. Richard1
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Unless there are other incidents we don’t know about the resignation of Sir Michael Fallon is absurd. Have we forgotten the behaviour of John Prescott when deputy prime minister?!

    • Richard1
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      I do hope sexpestgate isnt going to usher in a marxist government. The cases which have so far come to light are ludicrously trivial – it is extraordinary that the people involved and the media which have carried the stories have thought them worthy of repetition!

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Cheap energy would help UK brick works remain competitive too.

    I see that Dennis Skinner yesterday suggested we should tunnel HS trains in the north too just to save 17 houses in his constituency. He obviously has not looks at the costs of doing so. Then again perhaps if he could insist it was all underground then the cost of the project might even persuade May and Hammond to finally cancel it. It is an absurd project, the benefits are trivial relative to the cost and it will inconvenience and cost many people massively while it is being built.

    Three cheers for some sense from Rod Liddle today.

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/11/its-not-victim-shaming-to-suggest-there-might-be-two-sides-to-every-story/

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      So base rates are up. Another mistake by the BoE. Unless that is Hammond is going to be sensible cut out all the state sector waste cut and simplify taxes hugely to attract investment and growth.

      The main problem anyway is not the base rate it is the large bank margins demanded, large fees and their general slowness & inefficiency. Tied up as they are in absurdly misguided red tape and capital slotting rules. Almost run like a top down, one size fits all nationalised industry.

  9. Peter
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    The building industry is boom or bust. It was ever thus.

    Since you mention Brexit towards the end of the piece, if reports are true that the EU are now demanding £44 billion before starting trade talks then it is time to say ‘No Deal’ and walk away.

    The changes due to Michael Fallon’s resignation and possibly others will also impact on strength and ability of the government to deliver on Brexit.

    Once again the realpolitik is of more importance than familiar arguments about the pros and cons of Brexit.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      It is indeed, this especially if governments make things even worse. Perhaps by joining the ERM and having circa 17% mortgages rates. Or just getting interest rates and banking regulations totally wrong – very often at exactly the wrong times.

  10. stred
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I was having a look at the stuff produced by the behavioural insights people and one branch is the institute of government, where the civil servants can read how to govern, without the help of ministers if necessary. This guide appears to tell them that trading on WTO terms will not work, that no other country trades only on WTO with the EU, and saying in the Single market is best. Do you have any comment? No shortage of pricks in the deep state?

    https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/publications/frictionless-trade-brexit-august-2017

    Reply This reference ignores the proposals the govt is pursuing to ensure the WTO model works, and is unaware of the 2017 comprehensive Facilitation of Trade Agreement by the WTO that we will be able to use

  11. Ian Wragg
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Never mind the brick shortage. The current allegations appear to be able carefully orchestrated attempt to bring down the government.
    Falcons wrong to resign and giving more ammunition to the accusers.
    Once again a politically motivated left wing plot to derail Brexit.

  12. Martyn G
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    John, interesting comment on brick shortages. Has anyone thought about the need for an adequate supply of concrete also being an important, related issue? I have no idea how many concrete-producing plant there is in the UK but an interesting fact is that its production involves production of a lot of CO2, calculated by the IPCC as being a significant source of global carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emissions, making up approximately 2.4 percent of global CO2 emissions from industrial and energy sources.
    What that actually means in relative terms to the UK overall CO2 emissions I have no idea but do wonder if anyone in government, in the drive towards outing CO2 wherever possible, have taken this into account? Has anyone in government or the ‘green blob’ industry thought about that in context of the ever larger number new houses needed to meet demand?

  13. Bert Young
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Getting the foundations right of anything is always the most important priority ; bricks are one thing , the BoE another . I’m once again being “moderated” for my post yesterday ; I considered my contribution to be a reasonable addition to the points John raised . I think it is valid to suggest that the HoL is a defunct body and that there are too many MPs ; as for the length of national elections – it is true that many issues legislated for cover a period in excess of 5 years . I also suggested that only a third of MPs should be up for election at any one time – this step would overcome the climax of when one Party takes over from its predecessor .

    Margaret Thatcher was a Prime Minister who would not stray from her ideology and once was photoed laying bricks ; in emulating a Churchill pastime she showed the country how important it was to get the foundations laid right .

  14. Alan
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I would think it quite plausible that housing prices will rise after Brexit. The bricks from the continent will be stuck in the lorry parks awaiting customs clearance and the Polish construction workers will all have gone home. So less houses will be built and the prices of those that remain will rise.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      If you believe that you will believe anything …

  15. Epikouros
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Free market Capitalism is alright except for the likes of Corbyn, he and others hate all forms of capitalism, as long as the state controls it with an iron fist so as ensure social justice. That at least is the current fashionable theory. Except if the state controls it is not free it is only so when consumers and providers control it. Social justice is not advanced at all whilst the authoritarian hand of the state makes consumers and providers choices for them. Or retards free markets capitalism from year on year taking millions out of poverty and/or giving them a better standard of living by making that efficient market inefficient.

    Your point about brick manufacture tells us that the state messed up by largely contributing to the last financial crisis and all others before it. Of course human greed did as well but the state in the end encourages it rather than discourages it. Fortunately the market despite of the disadvantages that the state and vested interests meddling have to contend with are putting that right as far as brick production is concerned at least. They are being sourced from where they are available maybe at an inconvenient price but obviously at the moment a price worth paying. Being sourced locally has no bearing on that supply apart from that an entrepreneur recognises there is a profit in doing so. Ibstock is apparently one such entrepreneur.

  16. formula57
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    As you note, “Brexit will offer us many opportunities to substitute home production for EU exports” but, clearly, we need to seize such opportunities. That is made more difficult of course by the actions of the quislings and remoaners but the government must provide a lead and encouragement. It ought to set-up a government department charged with recognizing and grasping the myriad opportunities lest they be lost.

    (Meanwhile let us draw what lessons we may but express no surprise that where conduct falls short in one matter (timely and proper dealing with correspondence – being your letter enquiring about energy policy in March 2013) it falls short too in other matters.)

  17. BOF
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Once bricks are again being produced in the UK, I am sure that for Government funded jobs, they will be sourced from abroad, as we have seen happen with steel for work on Westminster, because our Government (ably assisted by the Civil Service) always kowtows to petty EU rules.

    Especially after we find that we are remaining in the EU in all but name, indefinitely!

  18. John E
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Yes, bricks are definitely the important thing to talk about today.
    Nothing else of interest happening, move on everyone.

  19. hans chr iversen
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    When consumer credit is rising by 10% a year beyond mortgages then it is the duty with inflation at over 3% to increase interest rates, anything else at this stage in the economic cycle would irresponsible.

    Or John do you know something the rest of us do not know?

  20. JimS
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t have anything to do with our brickworks being owned by Germans does it? How come the ‘continental’ brickworks didn’t fold during the ‘crash’?

  21. alan jutson
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    We have had brick and Block shortages before, way before 2008, so not unusual when construction/house building starts to pick up from its more normal trend.

    Makes me smile when politicians think because they want housing starts to more than double the present rate, they just think throwing money at it will solve all of the available land, labour, and material shortages at a stroke.

    I wonder how many Ministers/Shadow Ministers have served time in the Construction industry. ?

    • alan jutson
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Too close to the truth perhaps the reason my comment has be held up.

      Certainly not too long a post.

  22. Peter Martin
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    ” …..Bank of England which last cut rates when the data was strong and did not justify it will probably raise rates when the data does not justify it. The Bank has slowed the economy by other means this year.”

    We should stop all this fiddling around with interest rates. We should decide what we should like them to be, say 1% or whatever, and do what we can to keep them steady. We only really need to move them to keep them broadly in-line with what other countries are doing.

    The Bank of England should never have been given the task of regulating the economy. The BoE should keep out of politics as far as possible and just get on with doing what Banks should do be doing. ie looking after their customers accounts!

    Interest rates have fallen to record lows in an attempt to keep the economy bouyant on borrowed money. We’ve created a dangerous bubble in the housing market which has just about priced out the younger generation. We have created a situation where retirees get little or no return on their savings.

    The so-called independence of the BoE is a myth in any case. We need to formally recognise that by taking back the supposed powers and the responsibility that was handed to it by the Blair government.

    • APL
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Peter Martin: “We should decide what we should like them to be, say 1% or whatever, and do what we can to keep them steady. ”

      Why do you think 1% is better than 3%? How do you know 1% is an appropriate figure now, and then, what about a decade from now?

      Peter Martin: ” what other countries are doing ”

      Do you mean other countries run along command economic lines, for example; Venezuela?

      Peter Martin: ” We’ve created a dangerous bubble in the housing market which has just about priced out the younger generation.”

      Yes, agreed. Firstly, housing has been the primary instrument of economic stimulation since Anthony Barber was chancellor.

      Secondly, artificially low interest rates have caused inflated house prices – right. But contradicted by your assertion that we should stop varying the interest rate and set it to 1% – a rate by the way, which is historically low.

      Finally, interest rates haven’t fallen, as you suggest. The UK interest rate has been forced to all time lows, by the government. The very body you suggest should set interest rates at 1% forever.

  23. Iain Gill
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Just ban the house builders with the highest proportion of customer complaints, or successful claims on the new build house guarantee insurance policy from buying bricks.

    Would do a lot of good in more ways than one.

  24. hans christian ivers
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    the BoE is doing the right thing with inflation at over 3% and consumer credit growing at more than 10% a year there is no alternative than raising interest rates at this time in the cycle with full employment.

    Or John do you know something the rest of us do not know?

  25. Rien Huizer
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    This is a somewhat mysterious post: bricks are not made by the public sector, but bu private firms. Apparently, importing bricks is/was (before the slide of GBP) cheaper than making them in the UK. It is not clear from where these bricks are imported. Ceramic tiles (also heavy but higher value per pound) are increasingly from China, Indonesia and Vietnam but countries like Italy and Portugal produce a lot for the European market.So distance might not be decisive plus: if the bricks are from the Far East, they would probably arrive in a Continental container port, to be transshipped via a feeder vessel to a UK port near the area where they would be used.

    That may well illustrate the sad fact that road and rail transport in the UK are in a situation that water based transport (usually sea) may well be cheaper for heavy, low value goods. That would diminish competitive advantage for UK based producers relying mainly on road transport. Just a suggestion of course

    If the government wants to speed up the domestic supply of bricks, maybe a Royal Brickworks might be a solution.

    As to the BoE: s small increase is completely priced in. No increase would disappoint and probably depress the exchange rate, especially since a 50 bp increase would not be too much of a surprise and justified based given an apparently very small output gap. A more robust Pound would be good for inflation and leave room for the inevitable uncertainty ahead, assuming that the BoE would have problems with a EUR over 90 and also taking into account that the risks for EUR and especially USD interest rates appear to be on the upside.

  26. Doug Powell
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Off Topic:
    I see the Remoaners are opening up another front to attack Brexit. Namely, using the Clintonesque defence of “I was such a brilliant candidate, and my platform similarly outstanding that it is not possible that I could have been beaten fairly. Therefore, it must have been Russian meddling that cheated me!”

    The PM has said allegations of Russian meddling in our democratic process at the Referendum and General Election would be taken seriously and investigated. What?

    Any investigation into foreign interference in our democratic process must surely begin with the President of the United States coming to this country and threatening us that “If we voted Brexit, the UK would go to the Back of the queue when it came to a trade deal with the US!” This was closely followed by the IMF, CBI, and countless multi nationals! Of course, meddling/cheating/subterfuge when done in the name of Remain is NOT regarded as UNDEMOCRATIC! – Just like their contempt and disregard of the Referendum result!

    Come on Prime Minister, by all means investigate rumours of Russian influence, but please include the above in that investigation! The above are not rumours, but fact! It will be to your perpetual disgrace if you fail to investigate the undemocratic Remain propaganda!

  27. Iain Gill
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Deary me the PM isnt half showing how useless she is for all to see…

    Absolute shower

    • Prigger
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Yes it is painful.

  28. paulW
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    When I read that DD is looking at the possibility of UK nationals holding associate citizenship of the EU for after our departure and Liam Fox is “hopeful” for the future but is not too sure because when we leave we will lose trade with 65 countries who we already have deals with through the EU and then I wonder what is the point in leaving?

    • Prigger
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Absurd. We have traded with these countries and people’s before Dimple Chin of the Vikings and his dad Ragmar battled terrorists in Spain on the beach.

    • Mark B
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      To gain our freeborn rights to make our own laws, set our own taxes and pursue our interests in the global world without having to get 27 other countries to agree with us.

      If you truly knew what we have lost and would continue to lose then you would never be as defeatist as you are.

      It is only those that have the most to lose and have not the nerve to do the job that they were employed to do that is holding this country back.

      • hans chr iversen
        Posted November 3, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        what is holding this country back, is only ourselves in lack of investments in infrastructure proper education and a better organisation of the public sector it has very little to do with the rest of the 27 as we are responsible for our own failures, unfortuantely

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      You should start by wondering whether any of it is true.

  29. Tad Davison
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Can’t be that much of a brick shortage, Theresa May is dropping bricks all over the place. If appointing another remainer in the shape of one Gavin Williamson to a very senior position in the government isn’t dropping a brick, I don’t know what is!
    Theresa May has an alias – Mrs Micawber – if she waits and dithers long enough, something might turn up to derail Brexit. By filling the cabinet with placemen, it seems she hopes to help that derailment along. She sure as hell won’t commit herself to Brexit!
    in highly publicised interviews she has given.

    Williamson is a Cameron man in his and Osborne’s pro-EU image. These are the people who tried to con us to stay in the EU, and who put out all-manner of scare stories to put the wind up everyone. Does May really not understand the sizable groundswell of people who now want the government to just get on with it and get us out as soon as possible – a number that includes a great many of those who originally actually voted to remain?

    She simply must be more realistic, stop flapping, and surround herself with people who truly believe in the cause. Would we really have expected the late great Bill Shankly to manage Everton with the same degree of loyalty and passion as his beloved Liverpool?

    We need the right people for the right positions. Remainers need not apply, nor should they be accommodated.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  30. Bob
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    So the Defence job went to another remainer.
    Imagine my surprise.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      I understand the Chief Whip had ministerial ambitions.

      There was some damaging revelations about MP’s leaked out, the sort of information we are told Whips hold.

      A Minister falls on his sword in response to those revelations.

      And the Chief Whip advises the PM what he would be the ideal candidate to take over the position.

      Or may be I am reading too much into it.

    • Prigger
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      And the person who campaigned passionately against Boris on behalf of Mrs May. She should be reminded the defence of the Realm has nothing whatsoever to do with her career aspirations. She is as sunk as the Bismarck in this respect, certainly with her Bilge wideopen and her Chancellor on the Poop Deck red herring fishing

    • Mark B
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Well, they are in the majority. 😉

      /sarc

  31. Dennis Zoff
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    JR

    Interesting comment and highlights one area that is supporting homegrown “rebuild”

    May I suggest an ongoing list of such “manufacturing rebuilds” to remind UK citizens that homegrown industries are the key to our long-term future post Brexit and a renewed important counterbalance to the equally important Financial services!

  32. Toffeeboy
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    So the Bank of England was wrong to cut rates last year and yet now it’s wrong to hike them? Is this the beginnings of the blame game now it’s becoming apparent the EU isn’t going to let us have our cake and eat it after all ,as you and others have long insisted was the case.

    I’d suggest it might be time to start having the honesty to admit Brexit is taking a toll on the economy, though I don’t expect you to do so for a minute.

    The question is: Who are you going to blame once you run out of people to point an accusing finger at. The EU for not playing ball?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      Dear Toffee–It is nothing like you imply–Lots of us simply want to be free of the EU and couldn’t care less about the hyped-up export and trade consequences — the proportion of GDP related to Europe is in any event much less than one might think from all the noise raised by Remainiacs. Nobody is suggesting filling in the Channel Tunnel so far as I know.

    • libertarian
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Dear Toffeeboy

      Hers a selection of interest rates from a few years ago… You know a time when we were firmly IN the EU

      Maybe Brexit has nothing to do with it do you think?

      Wed, 04 Sep 1991 10.3750
      Fri, 12 Jul 1991 10.8750
      Fri, 24 May 1991 11.3750
      Fri, 12 Apr 1991 11.8750
      Fri, 22 Mar 1991 12.3750
      Wed, 27 Feb 1991 12.8750
      Wed, 13 Feb 1991 13.3750
      Mon, 08 Oct 1990 13.8750
      Fri, 06 Oct 1989 14.8750
      Fri, 08 Sep 1989 13.7500
      Mon, 04 Sep 1989 13.8750
      Thu, 31 Aug 1989 13.8438
      Thu, 25 May 1989 13.7500
      Fri, 25 Nov 1988 12.8750
      Thu, 25 Aug 1988 11.8750
      Mon, 08 Aug 1988 10.8750
      Thu, 21 Jul 1988 10.3750
      Thu, 07 Jul 1988 9.8750

    • Mark B
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      Describe BREXIT ? Bearing in mind that we have not left the EU yet !

    • John
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      2009 interest rates were 0.5%, 2016 0.25%, 2017 0.5%

      a 0.25% change. Miniscule and who is seriously talking about blame here?

      As you suggest in your post 1st paragraph, it shouldn’t have decreased in 2016 and instead just remained at 0.5%. What is your problem! ?!

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      No. It is Carney who is in the blame game – both times !

      • Anonymous
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        “…because of Brexit”

  33. Ed Mahony
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    No to 2nd referendum. Too controversial (at moment).
    I think Brexiters should be happy for challenging the EU. But time we got on with Brexit now and make deal with the EU.
    90% of the country would support something like EFTA with controlled borders over Hard Brexit (plus Hard Brexit simply doesn’t have the legs to go 20 years of economic decline until things improved again. We haven’t even left the EU yet, and Hard Brexit is struggling. With just a year or two of real economic decline, Hard Brexit would be quickly finished off).
    We also need to unite as a country, and get on with other really important non-Brexit issues, like pay off our debt, built up our economy, and more.
    Regards

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      ‘would support something like EFTA with controlled borders over Hard Brexit’

      – But the £350m is nonsense. We’ll have to pay a big price for EFTA with controlled borders. But 90% of the country would be prepared for that than crash out without a deal and really struggle, economically, for the next 20+ years.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Wake up, under the Vaduz Convention EFTA is now committed to all four of the EU’s four freedoms.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted November 4, 2017 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        I said something like EFTA.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted November 5, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          If it’s like EFTA as it is now then it will also accept the inseparability of the four freedoms. That was not true originally but it is now.

  34. nigel seymour
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Putting moral duty to one side, how many asylum seekers arrive in the UK in transit from countries where they originally sought asylum?
    Does the UK encourage asylum seekers to make their way to the UK with, or without, ID or papers. ?
    Is it acceptable that asylum seekers who are required to attend interviews either ignore them or just blend into our communities never to be recorded or seen again.?
    Will post Brexit either encourage or discourage asylum or illegal entry into the UK?

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      It’s a deliberate policy. The electorate won’t vote the right way ? Change the electorate.

      • APL
        Posted November 4, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

        Anon: “The electorate won’t vote the right way ? Change the electorate.”

        The electorate should ‘wise up’, reduce their tax liability ( legally ) – stop allowing the political class to extort funds for our detriment.

        ….. While insulting themselves from the results of their policies, with indexed non contributory pensions, and all the other perks of the very cushy job.

  35. Ian Dennis
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    On a similar note we now import 25% of our milk consumption.
    While since 1996 66% of dairy farmers have left the industry.
    Brexit if handled correctly, should provide a stimulus to both brick making and agriculture.

    • Mark B
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      The population has grown. This in part is due to the EU and our useless government and civil service not applying the EU rules properly and allowing anyone from the EU here and, people who are not EU citizens allowed to bring their families in.

  36. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    I happened to see part of a BBC programme in which there were lamentations that nurses and midwives from the rest of the EU now seem to have been put off from coming to work in the UK, and so there could be shortages while we are waiting for more Britons to be trained up. In the discussion there was no mention at all of the name of the very senior, knightly, civil servant who was responsible for giving the terrible advice that EU citizens living in this country should be used as bargaining chips – someone who is now being feted as a hero on a certain well-known Remoaner blog – and not was there any mention at all of Theresa May’s recent efforts to undo the damage caused when she took that terrible advice.

    • rose
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Nor was there any mention of the stricter language requirements by the NHS, recently brought in.

  37. Philip Stephens
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    The bias of the Governor of the Bank of England was present for all to see in his interview today. He rightly claimed that the drop in the value of sterling after the referendum caused inflationary pressures. He did not say that that the low value of sterling was not helped by the Bank’s unnecessary interest rate cut last year. Nor, more importantly, did he mention that the low value of sterling had allowed British exporters to sell more goods abroad.
    One expects the Governor of the Bank of England to provide unbiased reports on the economy. This particular Governor has sounded more like a politician than a banker, in my opinion.

  38. John
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    UK kilned bricks are the best. From Elizabethan times to now they have reflected the architecture of the day and the geographic clay of the region. England in particular has a splendid tapestry of brick sizes, colours and patterns over the centuries.

    Most other countries n the world can’t match the variety of architecture seen in our villages often dating back over 1000 years.

    Look forward to these kilns returning rather than the bland block wood EU constructions being imported.

  39. Iain Moore
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Mr Williamson has no Ministerial experience, no experience within the MOD, and no Military experience, and he has voted against strengthening the Military Covenant no less than three times.

    By this appointment Mrs May has made it abundantly clear what she thinks of the Armed forces.

  40. APL
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    JR: “The Great recession led to many brick kiln and plant closures .. ”

    You don’t get away with it that easily!

    The administration you support has an expensive energy policy for the last seven years.

    Brick manufacturing, more than almost any other industry is an energy intensive industry. The more expensive our energy, the less competitive Brick manufacturing will be when competing against foreign manufacturers.

    As with the Labour administration before it, its expensive energy policy directly led to the closure of the UKs last aluminium smelting facility in Anglesey.

    • stred
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      The main component of walls is insulating block. Most of this is made using PFA, which is ash from coal power stations. There is now a shortage following the all but closure of these. The Germans have stepped up Lignite coal production for their baseload electricity and now produce much more CO2 than the UK. Expect German insulating block before long.

    • Stan Matthews
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      The pottery industry faces the same problem, the cost of firing the ware is a significant direct cost, our ability to compete with cheap imported ware is severely hampered by high energy costs.

    • APL
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      Not to mention the Steel industry.

      If we lose the last to large scale steel plants in the UK, our governments policy of de-industrialization will have taken a giant step forward.

      Such industries are massively energy consumers, the steel foundries need to run 24 hours a day, the brick kilns likewise, simply for efficiency .

      The more energy an industry consumes – particualy in the UK with it’s artificially high energy costs and lunatic green energy policies, – the less competitive the industry can be on the international stage.

  41. ian
    Posted November 3, 2017 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    I see that councils and county councils now have stalls at property exhibition to sell their building land off to overseas buyers as fast as they can.

  42. agricola
    Posted November 3, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Well I keep telling you, stop using bricks, they are yesterday. Design for factory building of houses and increase building tenfold while creating a quality product. Take yourself back to 1947 when we did just that with pre-fabs. These outlasted their predicted life because of the inbuilt quality. In Sweden they have been doing it for years and their houses are superb in appearance , energy saving and quality. Stop playing with bricks.

    • APL
      Posted November 4, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      agricola: “Take yourself back to 1947 when we did just that with pre-fabs.”

      Stop bothering the government, they know nothing about industry.

      Get out there, find the finance, set up your own business in the prefab housing sector. If it’s so good, you should be pretty rich, pretty fast.

  43. APL
    Posted November 4, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    JR: “The Great recession led t .. ”

    That is a favorite term, you used it frequently. What does it mean exactly?

    There are precise terms used to describe a recession, and a depression.

    Your use of the term ‘great recession’ might be thought a sidestep to avoid the word ‘depression’.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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