New survey reveals true cost of living on plumbing industry

min read time
2024-03-15 10:35:29

•    65% of plumbers have noticed an increase in callouts due to customers not turning their heating on during cost-of-living crisis
•    60% are already having to turn work away because their workload is too high, with 65% saying jobs regularly overrun 
•    This is impacting the next generation – with less than half of those surveyed currently able to take on an apprentice 

As the UK emerges from another challenging winter that has seen energy bills continue to rise, a new survey has revealed the impact this is having on plumbers.

The research, carried out as part of Wavin’s annual ‘State of the Nation’ survey, shows that plumbers have seen an increasing number of issues as a direct result of customers not turning their heating on. Almost two thirds of respondents said they were receiving more callouts for faulty heating systems, at a time when the majority of those surveyed said they were already facing a workload that was too high.

Although there is set to be temporary respite for consumers in the form of changes to the energy price cap in April, a year of uncertainty and global supply chain challenges means that plumbers will continue to be under significant pressure in the year ahead.

There are also concerns about the long-term impact on the industry as a whole. A combination of busy workloads and frequently overrunning jobs is reducing the amount of time being spent training the next generation. Less than half (45%) of those asked said they had an apprentice – at a time when skills shortages are plaguing the sector’s ability to react to the cost-of-living crisis.


Steve Harris, Technical Support Engineer at Wavin UK, said: “This research lays bare the situation we are now in. Plumbers are under more pressure than ever before to accept work that they can’t realistically handle to ease the strain on their customers. This could have serious repercussions on work / life balance, risking a skills exodus from plumbers who cannot keep pace with the demands being placed on them."

“At the same time, there is already a skills deficit that needs to be addressed. We need more plumbers entering the industry, not less, which makes the lack of time that can be given to training apprentices even more worrying."

“That’s what makes this research so crucial in raising awareness of the challenges we face. Plumbers pride themselves on hard graft and it’s better to be busy than have no work on at all – but unless plumbers are supported in addressing the skills shortage and tackling issues associated with the cost-of-living crisis, the industry is at risk of sleepwalking into a situation that will be difficult to come back from.”


Wavin recently sat down with a few plumbers to take a deep dive into the industry’s hot topics – see what they had to say below


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