Poor weather hit UK construction in February

By Helen Wright11 April 2014

Seasonally adjusted construction output in the UK fell 2.8% (£270 million, €326 million) in February, compared to January this year, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In terms of sectors, new work output fell 2.6% month-on-month, and repair and maintenance fell 3.1%.

The declining trend in infrastructure output also continued in February, with a fall of 3.7% month-on-month. The ONS said estimated output of infrastructure in February was £1.04 billion (€1.25 billion), compared to its peak of £1.36 billion (€1.64 billion) in December 2011.

However, the ONS said longer term data showed a slightly improved picture – emphasising the volatility in the short term estimates. Figures for the three months from December to February show that output grew 0.3% compared to the previous three months.

This increase was fuelled by a 1% rise in new work, while repair and maintenance output decreased 0.8% during this period.

Estimated to be £5.8 billion (€7 billion) in February 2014, the ONS said new work output was 12.3% below its monthly peak of £6.6 billion (€7.9 billion) recorded in June 2011.

Steve McGuckin, UK managing director of construction consultancy Turner & Townsend, said widespread flooding held up construction work in several parts of England in February.

“But a fall in output during one rain-sodden month will not dampen the industry's enthusiasm,” he added. “Quarterly and annual rates of growth remain robust, and in the South East in particular demand is stronger than it has been for years.

"House building remains the primary engine of growth though, as commercial property output is essentially flat and infrastructure work continues to slide.

"While the extraordinary rates of growth in public sector house building – up nearly a third since last February – are on top of a low base, private sector residential construction has grown consistently.”

However, he added, “Construction has always been a barometer of economic sentiment, but at its best it can also drive truly broad-based economic growth. So the continued fall in infrastructure work is a concern.”

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