The Office for National Statistics published construction output figures for February and, compared with February 2012, output was 7 per cent lower.
Taking a longer term view by comparing the three months to February 2013 with the same three months a year earlier does not make for more comfortable reading. Output fell by 8.9 per cent overall with all major sectors of the industry posting declines. Most notable is the fall in public other new work – this fell 23.7 per cent and includes work on schools which has traditionally provided a pipeline of work for SME construction companies.
Julia Evans, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “In each of the last three years between February and March, there has been a marked increase in construction output. While we cannot dismiss the effects the prolonged period of bad weather may have on March’s figures, we can only hope that, despite construction companies continued difficulties accessing finance and increased capital investment delayed until 2015, that history does repeat itself and construction can report positive growth.”
The government has previously committed to investing in infrastructure and focusing on shovel-ready project that have stalled but which could be restarted with little effort. The government’s business bank was launched on April 10, promising to address the pent-up demand of small business lending.
Julia Evans continued: “To enable the construction industry to thrive, what we need to see from the government is the delivery of those schemes and a laser-like focus on ensuring that the schemes benefit those they were intended to help, and within a reasonable timeframe.”