Construction output continues to slip

Construction output in the UK has continued its recent decline with February Office for National Statistics figures showing that the sector suffered a 1.6 per cent month-on-month fall, and compared with February 2017, construction output fell 3.0 per cent; the biggest month-on-year fall since March 2013.

The three-month on three-month decrease in construction output was driven predominantly by the continued decline in repair and maintenance work, which fell by 2.6 per cent in February.

The construction output decrease in the month-on-month series, contracting by 1.6 per cent in February, stemmed from a 9.4 per cent decrease in infrastructure new work.

The ONS also said it had received some anecdotal information from a small number of its survey respondents regarding the effect of the snow on their businesses in the final week of February 2018.

It said the adverse weather conditions across Great Britain could have potentially contributed to the decline in construction output, although it is difficult to quantify the exact impact on the industry.

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, said: “While I’m glad to report that Cruden is bucking market trends and performing strongly, it’s true to say that right now is a tough time forconstruction.

“With less than a year to go until Brexit, the twin pressures of rising material costs and a decreasing workforce are only being exacerbated. Although Cruden and many others in the Scottish construction industry have been working to plug the current skills gaps for some time, the spectre of Brexit is casting a shadow of uncertainty over what it will mean for materials costs and the ability to retain skilled labour.

“We need decisive action from Government to secure trade and labour agreements that will support the construction industry in delivering on Scotland’s housebuilding and wider infrastructure targets.”

Gordon Reid, regional business development manager, Kier Construction Scotland, said: “These figures reflect ongoing challenges for the industry and output has been down for a long while. However, in contrast, Kier has recently announced a solid set of half-year financial results where we have grown our business, expanded our order book and secured a robust pipeline of activity.

“Heritage is a particular growth sector for Kier Construction Scotland. We have just been appointed as the contractor to support Glasgow Life in their refurbishment of The Burrell Collection. Returning iconic buildings to their former glory is hugely rewarding and provides plenty of opportunities to attract a diverse range of new talent to the industry. We will continue to focus on showcasing the breadth of career opportunities that the construction industry has to offer, and highlight the significant boost that our sector delivers to the Scottish economy.”

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