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UK construction sector continues to face difficulties

Construction output is continuing its recent decline, falling by 0.8 per cent in February 2018, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. This was driven predominantly by a fall in repair and maintenance work, which fell by 2.6 per cent in February 2018.  There has also been a decline in the number of new commercial and industrial construction projects, which decreased to £8,211 million or 1.6 per cent in February 2018, stemming from a 9.4 per cent decrease in infrastructure new work. Most worrying, compared with February 2017, construction output fell 3.0 per cent; the biggest month-on-year fall since March 2013.

The ONS has received some anecdotal information from a small number of survey respondents regarding the effect of the snow on their businesses in the final week of February 2018 that suggest the adverse weather conditions across Great Britain could have potentially contributed to the decline in construction output.

Commenting on the figures, Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive said: “Today’s data shows the construction sector is continuing to face difficulties. Anecdotal evidence is pointing towards a dip in productivity and output as a result of the adverse weather conditions experienced in the early months of the year, with a number of construction sites and manufacturers unable to operate during this period.

“The contraction in both total new work and repair and maintenance is troubling. The upgrades required to our vital infrastructure and services should also not be underestimated. Inadequate roads, rail, energy, schools, hospitals and housing significantly hampers the country’s productivity. With only 12 months remaining in our Brexit negotiations, it is vital that the UK’s assets and infrastructure are fit for purpose, attract inward investment and create a strong independent economy.

“New work also fell in February to £8,211 million, largely due to a decrease in private commercial new work and public new work. It is important that this decline is reversed, especially for the public sector where demand for services is only going to increase.”

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