Construction swings from weakest to strongest sector

Aaron Morby 6 days ago

Construction output rebounded in May ending three consecutive months of decline.

The 1.9% jump in activity was driven mainly by new work, up 2.7%, while repair and maintenance delivered a lower increase of 0.8%.

At a sector level, both private and public new housing returned to 2.8% growth, while infrastructure new work rose by 3.5%.

Scott Motley, head of programme, project and cost management at Aecom, said: “An increase in output following three months of decline will give the construction industry a much-needed boost.

“Confidence will also be buoyed following the General Election result and the clarity and stability Labour’s parliamentary majority provides for the nation’s future direction.

“Ambitious manifesto pledges combined with action in the first few days of the administration suggest infrastructure will be a clear priority.

“However, those ambitions will only be realised with a new level of cooperation between the government and the private sector from the outset.”

Clive Docwra, managing director of property and construction consultancy McBains, said: “After previous statistics showed the construction sector lagging behind the modest uptick in growth witnessed in other industries, today’s figures are much better than expected.

“Especially welcome is that growth was experienced across most work sectors, with new housing seeing a 2.8% increase.

“Whether or not this represents the green shoots of recovery, however, is unclear.  Over the three months to May output still decreased by 0.7%, showing that growth is still fragile.

“Despite these returns, the sector still needs a shot in the arm, and developers will hope Labour’s announcement this week to get the country building translates into renewed confidence from investors, both in housing and commercial projects.

“What every sector within the industry will be crossing their fingers for is a period of economic stability to help construction across the board get back on track.”

Michael Wynne, director of the sustainable house builder, Q New Homes, said: “The jump in output can only be partly explained by the contrast between May’s good weather – which was officially the warmest on record – and the rain-soaked April, which delayed work on many building sites.

“Levels of new house building spiked by 2.8% during the month, and while this is very welcome it’s worth remembering that this figure is flattered by comparison to the low levels seen during the first part of the year.”

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