According to the latest Construction Trade Survey, published by the Construction Products Association (CPA), construction activity rose for the seventh consecutive quarter during the fourth quarter of 2014.
Firms across construction, from the largest contractors to SMEs, product manufacturers and civil engineers reported output growth in Q4, with further growth expected in 2015.
CPA economics director, Dr Noble Francis, said: “Another quarter of growth confirms the construction industry’s strongest performance in six and a half years. Activity rose in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier according to 44% of contractors, on balance, although this moderated from 60% reported in Q3.”
He continued: “Increased activity was led by the private housing sector, in which 53% of firms, on balance, reported a rise in output. Output was also driven by private commercial, the largest construction sector, where 40% of firms on balance reported rising volumes of offices and retail work.
“Looking forward, contractors expect continued strength in private housing and commercial this year, boosted by public non-housing as a stream of work on the Priority School Building Programme gets underway. Outside of these sectors, however, order books weakened in Q4, suggesting a moderation in growth in 2015. SMEs in particular reported a noticeable slowdown in new enquiries in Q4.”
“Ongoing difficulties in recruiting skilled on-site trades are also likely to keep upward pressure on costs. Amongst large contractors, 70% reported difficulties in recruiting bricklayers in Q4, up from 41% in Q3,” Dr Francis added.
Stephen Ratcliffe, Director UKCG, said, “Recovery in construction is good news for everyone in the industry. Hopefully, possible political changes in the UK and economic uncertainty in the Eurozone will not damage the industry’s growth prospects. Cost pressures continue to be a worry largely reflecting skills shortages. That is why UKCG members are focussing their activities on attracting new people into construction.”