Construction output falls for third month running

Aaron Morby 1 month ago

Construction output fell sharply in April marking the third consecutive monthly fall since a small uplift was recorded in January.

The 1.4% contraction in activity was caused by decreases in both new work (- 1.9%), and repair and maintenance (-0.8%).

According to fresh data published this morning by the Office of National Statistics, survey returns suggested heavy rainfall and strong winds dampened activity during April.

The latest figures will be a blow to the Government, which yesterday set out its Manifesto plan to boost house building with stamp duty cuts and reinstatement of help to buy for first-time buyers.

At the sector level, seven out of the nine sectors saw a fall in April. The main contributors to the monthly decrease were private housing new work, and private housing repair and maintenance, which fell by 4.4% and 2.5%, respectively.

In the three months to April, the industry has seen construction output fall 2.2%, mainly due to a 2.8% fall in new work brought on by project delays.

Clive Docwra, managing director of property and construction consultancy McBains, said: “After last month’s figures showed the construction sector still mired in technical recession, today’s figures come as a further blow for the industry.

“A close to 2% fall in new work across the board highlights the continuing caution shown by investors being reluctant to commit to new projects while so many economic uncertainties remain.

“New work in private housing in particular remains in the doldrums, seeing a fall of more than 4%.

“Many in the industry are crossing their fingers for a post-election boost, but today’s figures show that whichever party forms the next government has a job on its hands to restore confidence and encourage growth.”

Scott Motley, head of programme, project and cost management at AECOM: “After an uptick in the broader economic climate, many will be hopeful that construction industry output will soon follow suit.

“Importantly, the upcoming General Election will provide clarity on the nation’s future direction earlier than anticipated, bringing with it the prospect of a new infrastructure strategy and greater confidence in investment decisions in the second half of the year.

“However, the continued high cost of doing business will still make for challenging landscape post-election until interest rates drop significantly.”

Fraser Johns, finance director at Beard, said: “Given the poor weather conditions seen in April, it should be hardly surprising to see a drop in monthly construction output. A sixth consecutive fall in the three-month series is more troubling, however it shows the mixed bag of the industry in the current climate.

“While there are those across the country undoubtedly experiencing challenges and significant pressures, from our perspective, the south of England remains incredibly buoyant with growing confidence and demand from both clients and from regional and national frameworks helping to fill our pipeline.”

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