Activity falls but Scottish surveyors express more optimism for year ahead


NEW research has found that Scottish construction workloads have fallen but surveyors are more positive about the long-term situation.

Activity has dropped for another quarter in the wake of Covid-19, according to the latest RICS Construction and Infrastructure market survey. However, workloads have fallen at a reduced rate compared to the previous quarter, with expectations for the year ahead now turning positive.

Overall construction workloads were lower, with a net balance of -18%. This was an improvement from -43% in the previous quarter’s survey.

Respondents on balance said they expect workloads in Scotland to be higher in a year’s time than they are currently. This is an improvement from three months ago, with the 12-month workload expectation balance having improved from -17% in Q2 to +33% in Q3.

Scottish surveyors expect profit margins to be ‘squeezed’ over the next year, but have tipped employment levels to be broadly flat during that period.

At UK-level, cross-sector workloads fell by a net balance of -7%, but this is less than the previous fall of -36% in Q2.

Commenting on the UK picture, Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said, “These are clearly very challenging times for the economy. Government’s commitment to delivering on its infrastructure programme provides a ray of light with the survey pointing towards a solid increase in workloads over the next twelve months which could play an important role in helping to drive a wider recovery in business activity.

“The private residential sector is also expected to see solid growth aided by the various policy initiatives that are still in play. However, commercial development is anticipated as being flatter in the face of the structural pressures facing both offices and retail.”