Alsford in Brexit softwood prices warning to Lib Dem leader

21 May 2018

Alsford Timber has warned Lib Dem leader Vince Cable that the company may have to pay millions more upfront to buy European softwood if the UK Government does not secure mutually-beneficial customs’ arrangements before the United Kingdom leaves the EU in ten months’ time.

Alsford told Mr Cable of the possibility during the politician’s visit to the Twickenham site of the 136-year old business. Growing the market for timber used in new housing and to convert, extend and repair existing homes was top of the agenda.

Neil Fuller, Alsford’s MD, said the company and trade body, the Builders Merchants Federation, were concerned that not enough is being done in Whitehall to prepare for a ‘no deal’ situation - and the impact it will have on prices and supplies of building materials.

Concern is focused on Value-Added Tax and the likelihood of having to pay 20% VAT upfront on European timber and other materials. Mr Fuller explained to Sir Vince that the UK was not self-sufficient in timber - 60% of imports come from EU countries like Sweden, Finland and Latvia.

He said unless Britain secures a mutually-beneficial customs’ agreement, the company warns it will have to pay 20% more for timber because VAT becomes liable to pay upfront before consignments can leave ports.

He warned of the serious and immediate implications for cashflow, costs and prices for merchants such as Alsford Timber.

Neil Fuller discusses C24 structural timber with Sir Vince Cable MP