Repair and maintenance keep UK construction sector afloat

By Richard High08 September 2008

The latest figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) show construction output in the second quarter of this year (2Q08) suffered a sharp slow-down in new build activity by the private sector.

While the house building sector suffered the most dramatic fall, down almost -17% compared to the same quarter last year, the repair and maintenance sector has grown by +2% since the beginning of the year, and by +6% since the same time in 2007.

Overall construction output has fallen -0,5% since the first quarter of the year, but is still stronger than in the first six months of last year.

Commenting on the figures, Construction Products Association chief executive, Michael Ankers said, "These figures confirm the serious state of the new housing market and the slowdown that many companies are experiencing in private sector industrial and commercial work.

"The strength of the repair and maintenance market is surprising, but has been helped by the funding for energy efficiency improvements through the new CERT scheme, which became operational at the beginning of April. There are also some indications that with the sharp fall off in house sales people who have decided not to move are spending more on their existing property.

Mr Ankers added that the figures also demonstrate the importance to the construction industry of government remaining "committed" to the capital spending plans set out in last year's Comprehensive Spending Review.

"Without the planned increase in spending on infrastructure, schools, hospitals and improvements to social housing, the construction industry would already be in recession, which would have serious consequences for the broader economy. The Prime Minister (Gordon Brown) and the Chancellor (Alistair Darling) need to take full account of this as they put together their autumn economic recovery package," added Mr Ankers.

The Construction Products Association represents the UK's manufacturers and suppliers of construction products, components and fittings. The Association acts as the voice of the construction products sector, representing the industry-wide view of its members. The sector has an annual turnover of UK£ 40 billion (€ 49.7 billion) and accounts for 40% of total construction output.

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