Last January, Kevin Taylor and his colleagues at construction group McLaren started to discuss the looming threat of inflation. Then they started to discuss it with customers. It was a conversation that would come to dominate much of the year – and which is ongoing.

“Our opinion was that there was going to be rampant inflation in the marketplace for many reasons,” says McLaren founder and chairman Taylor, rattling off a checklist of challenges from his office in Chiswell Street, EC1. “Labour going back home, factories starting back up again, no surplus materials because it had all gone out and people would say they’re not manufacturing, trainees not coming into the industry, people retiring early…”

The list went on and, sure enough, the prices rose, with material, labour and energy costs rocketing over the course of last year. Recent government data shows that the cost of construction materials – including steel, timber and concrete – shot up by close to a quarter in 2021, roughly equal to the rise seen across the previous 12 years combined.

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