New figures show sharp rise in construction contract awards


CONSTRUCTION contract awards in Britain in March 2021 increased by 22% compared to February to £5.8 billion, largely driven by an increase in the hotel and leisure sector.

The stats were revealed in the latest edition of the Economic & Construction Market Review from Barbour ABI, which highlights levels of contract values awarded across the country.

Barbour ABI said analysis shows that residential contract awards remained ‘stable’ at historical average levels, after picking up in February. Activity was £2 billion in the month, compared to £1.9 billion in February and £1.6 billion in January.

The hotel and leisure sector contract awards value reached £1 billion in March.

Tom Hall, chief economist at Barbour ABI and AMA Research, said, “After a weak recovery over the second half of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, March saw a definite improvement across the planning environment. Importantly increases were seen in the commercially sensitive sectors of hotel and leisure in contract awards, and residential and commercial in planning approvals.

“However, this is only one month of improvement and the planning environment is notoriously volatile. The catch-up of ‘lost’ contract awards since the start of the pandemic amounts to some £15 billion of projects, or around 20-25% of the annual contract award value. We would therefore expect a significant amount of catch up over the next couple of months as the economy reopens to strengthen a currently weak construction pipeline.

“All things equal this is some much-needed positive news for the sector after an exceptionally challenging 12 months.”