Construction Alliance North East is working with the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) and CECA to address the worsening materials shortages crisis that has blighted the construction sector in 2021.

Throughout the last 12 months the industry has been faced with price hikes and unavailability of products. Supplies like timber, steel, cement, and roof tiles have diminished over this time and with this shortage expected to continue into next year, the impact could worsen if action is not taken.

CAN, formed in 2015 to better represent regional SME contractors in the North East, recently attended a meeting of the heads of procurement of the 12 Local Authorities in the North East and NEPO with the Builders Merchants Federation and Civil Engineering Contractors Association to discuss price inflation and shortages. The BMF provided valuable national insight, background and data to raise awareness of the scale of this issue. The presentations were very well received by the Councils and further engagement is planned.

CAN chair Ken Parkin said: “I don’t think there is a business in our region that has not been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure of sites during the various periods of lockdown, staff issues and now ongoing materials shortages in our industry, means many firms are still battling the financial impact of the pandemic.

“The industry has never been in this situation before so It is important that CAN understands national issues which affect us here in the North East so we can learn from this in future and explain it to our regional membership. CAN strongly believes that planning ahead and working collaboratively with suppliers and clients is the only way to minimise the impact of this global issue on North East contractors.”

The meeting was led by BMF chief executive John Newcomb, who outlined the depth the crisis which is gripping the UK’s four nations. He explained that driver shortages and shipping costs, which have risen 525% in the last year, are two key areas that need to be understood on a wider level to alleviate the issues.

CAN feels this issue needs all parties working together is the only way to tackle this issue and the first step towards this is to raise awareness across the entire industry.

Laura Kyle, Procurement Specialist at NEPO, said that the organisation is committed to coordinating a united approach to this pressing issue. She said: “Every year the 12 North East local authorities and wider public sector spend millions on construction projects such as schools, highways and infrastructure; by working together we can fully understand the impact of the ongoing building materials shortage, as well as sharing insight from the supply base to help mitigate the issue.”

CAN are keen to support North East businesses through the crisis, and plan to hold a more in-depth summit later in the year to further discuss the materials issue

For more information on CAN, visit