Infrastructure plan raises industry hopes for 2012

Grant Prior 12 years ago
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Nearly half of construction companies are still expecting workloads to increase next year.

An online survey by the CBI and Speedy Services of 635 contractors found that a quarter of firms expect business to decline in 2012 but 42% expect some growth.

The research revealed that the outlook is more positive following the Chancellor’s autumn statement but nearly nine out of ten companies expect public spending cuts to act as a drag on the industry.

Two-thirds of firms attacked the UK’s planning system as an obstacle to business, while four out of ten have seen a deterioration in the availability of finance over the past year.

More than three-quarters of firms are planning to maintain or increase spending levels on training and investment in apprentices in the coming year.

Companies quizzed employ close to a million people in all areas of construction, ranging from design and materials supply to civil engineering and house building.

Small and medium-sized businesses have been particularly affected by a lack of finance, with nearly half reporting a deterioration in availability in the past 12 months, and 37% expecting things to get tighter in 2012.

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “Construction firms are facing tough operating conditions, and they are clear about what can be done to give the sector a boost.

“Firms want certainty, and they need guaranteed infrastructure spending to deliver it.

“Now the sector has grounds for optimism. The Chancellor’s autumn statement outlined the construction pipeline and increased the Government’s commitment to housing, and spending on roads, rail, energy and other crucial infrastructure.

“The Government has recognised the role construction can play in building a path to the recovery, and the sector is more than ready to play its part in generating economic growth.

“But the Government must now move quickly to bring infrastructure projects to market so the sector can gear up and create jobs.”

Steve Corcoran, CEO of Speedy Hire PLC, said: “Construction investment has the potential for job-creation in every region of the UK, and it has never been more vital than now.

“Recent government announcements on infrastructure investment and planning reforms are heartening.

“This spending should provide much-needed momentum for the sector, enabling firms to offer avenues into work for the unemployed, especially the young.”

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