UK construction industry optimism

25 April 2013

Construction professionals believe UK market fortunes may be improving after more witnessed a rise in workloads in the first quarter of 2013 than at any time since the end of 2007, according to the latest construction market survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The first three months of 2013 saw 10% more surveyors across the country report rising workloads. One of the main drivers behind this was the boost in private housing construction. While still historically low, the boost in house building suggests that government initiatives are starting to re-invigorate the sector.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said, “Although it’s far too early to start talking about a recovery in the construction sector, the rise in output at the beginning of the year is a little better news.

"The government’s attempts to stimulate the market seem now to be having some impact but there are still significant challenges to be overcome. In particular, the availability of finance and planning related issues continue to present obstacles to development”

But the UK's ‘North/South’ divide remained in evidence, according to RICS. While London, the South East and the Midlands saw increases in construction, Northern Ireland and Scotland continue to see workloads slip. These parts of the country remain depressed and show no immediate signs of improving.

However, those surveyors experiencing an increase expect the positive trend to continue. 27% of respondents expect workloads to rise over the coming year, as confidence gradually returns to the market.

Employment opportunities are also looking up. The RICS survey showed that 22% more chartered surveyors anticipate employment levels rising over the coming year but the profit outlook is projected to remain depressed.

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