Construction output increases, but challenges remain

THE latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures on construction output have provided more ‘encouraging’ news for the sector.

Construction output increased by 0.4% in the three-month on three-month all work series in April 2019, driven mainly by the all repair and maintenance series, which grew by 1.0%.

New work rose by 0.1% in the three months to April 2019. Growth in infrastructure (3.6%) and public new housing (4.7%) were counterbalanced by falls in private commercial new work and public other new work.

Construction output decreased 0.4% in the month-on-month all work series in April 2019, due to a 2.1% fall in repair and maintenance.

In more positive news, new orders grew 9.6% in Quarter 1 2019 against the previous quarter. This growth was driven by a 16.1% increase in other new work, offset slightly with a fall of 4.6% in housing new work.

Allan Callaghan, MD of Cruden Building, part of the Cruden Group, said, “It’s encouraging to see output figures looking more positive this month but for continued growth in the sector, we need to increase the number of people choosing to work in construction.

“That’s why at Cruden, we have always undertaken a successful apprenticeship scheme where we help to shape and prepare future generations entering the construction sector, illustrating our ongoing commitment to addressing skills shortages within the industry while supporting our ongoing growth aspirations.

Allan Callaghan

“We are currently interviewing for this year’s intake of new apprentices across a variety of trades and skills, and they will become part of the 90 strong team of apprentices we train every year across the group. This, combined with our Cruden Academy – a continuous programme of investment in employees’ lifelong learning, training and distance support, as well as further education support – means that we will have a pipeline of talented and skilled employees to help us meet any challenges, and opportunities, the future might present.”

Mark Robinson, chief executive of Scape Group said that while it is “very promising” to see that all new work increased by £153 million on the quarter, activity began to falter again in April and now the industry is “continuing to rely on private housing to prop output up”.

He added, “In order to avoid the slump turning into a prolonged trend, the industry needs direction, but it’s looking unlikely that the government will be getting its act together anytime soon. Farcical political party infighting is continuing to derail not only progress on Brexit, but everything else on the political agenda. And over the past couple of days, it has become very apparent that the Conservative Party is descending down a path of self-destruction and are at risk of taking the country down with them.

“It is important we remain resilient in the face of adversity, and construction firms should press ahead with jobs where they can. However, in order for the country to move forward, we do need clarity not only on big-ticket infrastructure decisions but also on the future of local authority funding so our towns can continue running efficiently and effectively. Internal affairs should not interfere with the upcoming spending review.”