Low subsidence claims have caused the industry to contract.

The UK subsidence industry is struggling due to continuing wet, chilly weather and lack of new talent, says a leading subsidence expert.

On the first anniversary of last summer’s floods, Nigel Barham, director of building services at GAB Robins and deputy chairman of the UK Subsidence Forum, said the problems had been exacerbated by the severe weather.

“One of the things the forum is particularly concerned about is industry skills for the future, and the need to bring in new blood to replace a quite high proportion of subsidence experts who are getting closer to retirement,” he said.

“That’s difficult right now in the current climate, because we’ve had a low subsidence year and may be faced with another.”

Subsidence is usually associated with hot and dry weather spells that cause clay shrinkage, as trees or other vegetation draw out moisture.

This can cause buildings to move and cause cracks in the structures.

According to figures from the ABI, there were only 31,995 subsidence claims notified in the UK during 2007. This compares to when there was a subsidence event in 2003, which resulted in 55,400 claims for the year.

But Barham said the underlying trend for subsidence claims has been upwards since 2003, even though 2007 saw the lowest number of claims.

He said: “Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and scale of weather events, whether it is droughts or floods. As such, the prediction is that both flood and subsidence events are likely to be more common.”

He added: “Those that are used to dealing with subsidence claims have the right customer skills for dealing with flooding. Surveyors engaged on subsidence can also turn their hand to flood repairs”

Meanwhile, GAB Robins announced earlier this week that Bill Jeffery has joined GAB from Cunningham Lindsey. Jeffery becomes subsidence operations director.