For tradespeople, 2017 was full of ups and downs and it left many wondering what’s in store for the years ahead. So we’ve compiled a list of what’s most likely to affect tradespeople in the coming 12 months, both good and bad.

1. The construction market is narrowing.

The latest figures suggest a lower than average decline in growth for the construction sector. The Construction Products Association expect the sector to grow by a mere 0.7% over the course of 2018. This is the slowest rate in six years.

This is due to rising costs, alongside falling wages and the generally sluggish economic growth. This obviously may create some potential problems for tradespeople. Not only that, but tradespeople may want to keep an eye on this part of the job, given that the economic outlook is starting to look more unclear for the upcoming years.

In fact, the Autumn Budget had mixed news for the economy in the coming Parliament. Many forecasts were revised down, and because of this, it’s expected that the economy won’t begin to recover for several years.

2. Tool theft is a problem that’s growing.

As you’ll probably already know, tool theft is an ongoing problem for tradespeople. Unfortunately, it has to be said that if you’re not already keeping your eyes and ears open, you may want to start – because the tool theft trend is on the rise and set to continue.

A Simply Business survey earlier in 2017 found that 98% of tradespeople were worried about tool theft, and with good reason. Thefts were up 30% during April, with Yorkshire and the Midlands as the major hot spots.

A particular theft trend called ‘peel and steal’ is the most popular risk for tradespeople. Although hopefully not for long, as van manufacturers are now taking steps to make their vehicles more secure.

3. Good news for van drivers.

Here’s some good news, particularly for the van drivers. The Autumn Budget, which was previously mentioned, also included measures for an increase in diesel tax.

However, tradespeople will be relieved to hear that vans will be exempt from the increase in 2018, with Chancellor Philip Hammond declaring: “No white van man or woman will be hit by these measures.”

4. The property market is unclear

The future of the UK property market is looking cloudy. Many commentators and industry insiders believe that the market is heading for a major correction, and prices are already beginning to drop in many parts of the country. In addition to this, properties are also taking significantly longer to sell.

House prices in London are now at a record; 14.5 times the average income, which basically means that home ownership is out of reach for a significantly large number of people. And that number is growing. For those already on the property ladder, fewer are selling and choosing to stay put instead.

Not only that, but with the trade professions also being impacted by the tax treatment, refurbishing existing properties attracts 20% VAT. Unlike new properties which are untouched. This means that it is often more appealing for large developers to knock properties down and build new ones. But at the same time, the appetite for large-scale new build properties, especially in the capital, seems to be declining, and developers are instead choosing to eke out projects more slowly on land that they already own in order to maximise profits.

5. More millennials set to go self-employed.

The number of small business owners is set to rise in 2018, and this popular movement is coming more so from young people. This could see many current employees deciding to go it alone, which will inevitably impact those tradespeople currently working with staff.

If you know someone looking to go self-employed in 2018, let them know that it’s wise on their part to make sure they’ve done all of their research before diving into something new and exciting.

6. Consumer spending is contracting

And finally, this issue is possibly the largest topic that is hovering around tradespeople. The ongoing contraction in consumer spending, meaning the public’s spending power, is expected to shrink in 2018, as the impact of the collapsing pound is combined with rising inflation.

Most importantly, the cost of borrowing is also set to rise. In tandem with stagnating real wages, this could cause problems for indebted households across the UK.

The rising cost of debt is also likely to impact businesses, which could potentially put pause on repair and refurbishment projects. In fact, a recent survey suggests that half a million businesses could be set to crumble as the rising cost of servicing loans outshines their ability to pay.

With all of this now in mind, we’d love to know your opinion. Join the discussion and debate about business in 2018, are you optimistic? Let us know.