The Construction Product Association’s latest Construction Trade Survey shows that activity in construction rose for the eleventh consecutive quarter in Q4.
This was reported by firms across all areas of the industry and was led by new building activity in the private housing, commercial and infrastructure sectors.
CPA senior economist Rebecca Larkin, said: “It is encouraging that growth continues to be reported across the entire construction supply chain. Overall, the near-term outlook appears positive, as firms from construction product manufacturers at the beginning of the supply chain to specialist contractors, SME builders and civil engineers carrying out work on the ground reported modest increases in enquiries, orders or anticipated sales for Q1 and the 12 months ahead.”
She continued: “Growth will continue to be led by work in the private housing, industrial and infrastructure sectors, but there are clearly areas that are languishing. Activity and orders were reported to be lower in public housing, which reflects the headwinds facing housing associations and local authorities amid recent policy decisions. Orders were also reported to be lower for repair and maintenance (R&M), both housing and non-housing, in Q4.”
Ms Larkin also highlighted the continuing shortage of skilled workers and said it remains the largest threat to construction activity in the months ahead.
Meanwhile, Suzannah Nichol, chief executive of Build UK, said: “Whilst we are continuing to see growth in construction the market is very mixed and the difficulties in recruiting the right skills are causing very real concerns as labour costs rise. With an expectation of rising workloads over the coming 12 months Build UK will focus on inspiring young people and those looking for a change of career to choose construction whilst motivating the workforce to stay within the industry.”
Paul Bogle, Head of Policy and Research at the National Federation of Builders, said, “While costs and the recruitment of skilled tradesmen remain an issue, we could be seeing the start of a trend as public housing output declines. It is highly unlikely the Government will realise its aspiration of building one million homes by 2020 without a strong house building public sector. Without more widespread access to small sites for SMEs the increases in private house building numbers can not be sustained over the longer term.”