Sector gives ‘cautious welcome’ to construction output stats


NEW Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures have revealed that UK construction output increased by 1.4% in the three months to January 2020, compared with the previous three-month period.

The rise was driven by 2.4% growth in new work with particularly positive contributions coming from the private housing, private commercial and infrastructure sectors, which increased by 2.4%, 2.1% and 1.7% respectively.

Output decreased by 0.8% in the month-on-month all work series in January 2020, partly due to a 2.4% fall in repair and maintenance as new work saw flat growth.

Allan Callaghan, MD of Cruden Building, part of the Cruden Group said, “It’s encouraging to see a return to construction output growth and this is reflected in our own strong performance, where the group has set ambitious targets to further expand our activities and boost housing delivery by 25% this year. Most recently, Cruden Building has been awarded two significant contracts with housing association, Sanctuary Scotland.

“However, in order to grow sustainably and future-proof the business, we need to continue to attract new talent into the industry. Initiatives such as last week’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week are vital to shine a spotlight on the sector and educate more young people on the diverse range of roles available. We will continue to invest heavily in our Cruden Academy, which includes our much-admired modern apprenticeship programme, managing over 60 apprentices across the group’s workforce. Equally, our emphasis on providing lifelong learning and training to our employees remains key to our continued success.

“On a cautionary note there is little doubt that the weather in the shape of the excessive rainfall may impact on output from the first quarter and the as yet unknown impact of the control of the Covid19 virus combined with the post-Brexit uncertainty are all factors which need micro and macro managed to maintain output.”

Clive Docwra, MD of construction consulting and design agency McBains added, “The construction sector will give a cautious welcome to these figures, in particular positive growth in private housing, private commercial and infrastructure work.

“Underlying long-term growth is still fragile however, with the figures showing volatile patterns over previous months, and the industry will be looking with interest at the Chancellor’s budget later today for any announcements that will give the sector a much-needed boost.

“Clarity on growth over the next few months is doubly important as the impact of coronavirus is an unknown quantity. If workers have to self-isolate, this will trigger a dip in activity, and if financial market values continue to fall then this will also have an impact on investors’ capacity to commit to new projects.”