Housebuilding drives construction growth in Scotland

CONSTRUCTION activity in Scotland rose marginally during the final quarter of 2017 thanks to a rise in housebuilding, according to new figures from RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).

The organisation’s quarterly Construction & Infrastructure Market Survey found that both public and private housebuilding activity was up, according to the balance of respondents. The balance for public housing (+27%) was the highest in the UK.

However, “lacklustre” figures for the private commercial and public non-housing sub-sectors, and reported falls in infrastructure and private industrial work, saw the overall workload balance for Scotland lag behind most other UK regions.

RICS added that shortages of workers appear to be less of an issue in Scotland than other regions, though skills gaps do exist. 44% of Scottish respondents reported shortages of quantity surveyors (compared to 66% for the UK as a whole), while 38% are experiencing shortages of other construction professionals (compared to a UK figure of 54%).

A net balance of 42% of Scottish respondents believe their workloads will be higher in 12 months’ time (compared to a UK figure of 48%). A net balance of 11% believe that they will employ more people over the next 12 months (compared to a UK figure of 35%).

Gail Hunter, regional director for RICS in Scotland said, “Activity in the construction sector in Scotland continues to expand, albeit marginally so, despite uncertainties related to Brexit and recent market events. It appears that this growth is largely being driven by activity in the housebuilding sector, and whilst expectations for the year ahead remain relatively positive, the current lacklustre performance in other sub sectors will cause some concern.

“Capacity constraints notwithstanding, the ability of the sector to contribute more sustainably to economic prosperity will depend largely on more coherent policies addressing issues ranging from workforce development to planning.”