Help to Buy boom leads to brick shortage in Scotland

Bricks on a building site
Image caption The number of brick-making firms in Scotland has fallen from six to one since 2006

The Help to Buy scheme in Scotland has proven so popular that the country is running out of bricks.

Housebuilders' orders have soared, while first-time buyers have been able to get on the housing ladder.

The scheme was expanded in May, bringing the total to £275m that the Scottish government is going to pump into the housing market.

But, while there were six brick-making companies in Scotland in 2006, now there is only one.

Demand for bricks fell dramatically following the recession and housing market crash, putting many suppliers out of business.

Others had to cut down dramatically on the amount they were making.

Jimmy Raeburn, Scotland's only remaining clay brick company, Raeburn Brick Limited in Blantyre, told BBC Scotland: "We had plenty of stock in the spring of last year and then, all of a sudden, production facilities just couldn't keep up with demand."

Suppliers stretched

The firm manages to cover about 15% of the current demand for bricks in Scotland, but that leaves 85% of orders that have to come from elsewhere.

There is a shortage of bricks across the UK at present and suppliers in England are stretched.

Brick prices have soared as small-scale companies and builders merchants are struggling to compete for supplies with the big national building companies.

Brick Link is the largest independent brick supplier in Scotland and it is getting 25% fewer brick deliveries into Scotland from UK-based manufacturers compared to 2013.

Calum Currie, managing director of Brick Link, said: "We are now having to source bricks from manufactures in Belgium, Holland and Spain to import into Scotland to try and meet the demand."

The Help to Buy scheme funding in Scotland is due to continue until March 2016.

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