CECA urges government to act over ‘flatlining’ infrastructure sector

Alasdair Reisner
Alasdair Reisner

Civil engineering contractors are calling for urgent action from the government to avoid a continued “flatlining” of the UK infrastructure sector.

In what is claimed to be the first national poll since the EU referendum, the companies that upgrade and maintain the UK’s infrastructure have said that growth in the sector has ground to a halt.

The quarterly Workload Trends Survey by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) revealed that six out of ten sub-sectors reported falling workloads in Q2 2016 and that workloads increased for just 2 per cent of the companies surveyed. This compares to a balance of 20 per cent reported in Q1, and was the lowest balance since 2013 Q2.

To compound matters, contractors report continuing difficulties recruiting skilled employees, with 43 per cent and 34 per cent of respondents reporting a dissatisfactory supply of staff and skilled operatives respectively.

Although contractors continue to report rising employment, this is likely to slow down if the market remains sluggish, and employment expectations for the next twelve months were the weakest since 2013 Q1.

Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of CECA, said: “These results spell real trouble for the UK economy, and should act as a major warning sign to policymakers.

“We know that infrastructure investment is a driver of economic growth. Given the recent disappointing economic forecasts following the Brexit vote, our figures show that the market is slowing just as the country needs it to speed up.

“The new government can’t afford to sit on its hands. There are existing committed programmes of work where we need to see the delivery of schemes - now - if this situation is to be reversed.

“Unless the government kicks on to get spades in the ground, we will be looking at a dramatic slowdown in growth, which is bad news for the 200,000 people who work in our sector, and bad news for the economy as a whole.”

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