UK construction on the up

By Sarah Ann McCay13 May 2014

The UK’s Construction Products Association has claimed that the country’s construction industry is definitely in recovery after it reported four consecutive quarters of growth.

In the association’s latest Construction Trade Survey, published on 12 May, showed that construction activity rose in the first quarter - the first time in six years that the industry has enjoyed four consecutive quarters of growth in activity.

Dr Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association, said, “Firms across construction reported rises in output during the first quarter, and increases in orders and enquiries clearly indicate that activity will continue to rise throughout 2014.

“Unsurprisingly, private new housing was the key driver of construction activity. On balance, 57% of contractors stated that sector output rose in the first quarter compared with a year ago, a considerable rise from the 20% balance reported in 2013's fourth quarter."

He added, "In addition, output in commercial offices and retail, the largest construction sector, rose for 22% of contractors, on balance, compared with a year earlier. This is a significant rise from the 8% balance reported just three months ago.”

Additional key findings of the Construction Trade Survey showed 11% of firms reported that housing repair and maintenance output fell during the first quarter of 2014 and 47% of firms reported tender prices rose in the first quarter of 2014 versus only 2% at the end of 2013.

As demand increased so did costs, with 77% of building contractors reporting that costs rose in the first quarter of 2014 compared with 63% at the end of 2013; and 89% of firms reported rises in material costs while 50% of firms reported rises in labour costs.

Skilled labour also proved harder to obtain, with 61% of firms stating that it was difficult to obtain bricklayers, while 28% reported that they had difficulty in recruiting carpenters.

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