Construction industry output dips – except in Scotland

Official figures show that construction industry output in January 2016 fell by 0.2% from the previous month, and by 0.8% compared with a year earlier.

Construction Index reports that orders data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate that construction new orders in the fourth quarter of 2015 were 0.5% lower than in the third quarter, though 1.4% higher than a year before.

The statistics, which relate to Great Britain, excluding Northern Ireland, show that compared to December 2015, new work decreased by 0.8%, while repair and maintenance increased by 0.8%.

Public housing work was down -10.6%, infrastructure down -8.6%, offset by increases in private commercial (+4.7%), public other new work (+1.6%), private industrial (+0.7%) and private new housing (+0.6%).

Construction Products Association economics director Noble Francis described the January fall as disappointing, saying it “largely reflects the impacts of poor weather at the start of the year with floods in many parts of the country”. He added: “In addition, skills shortages in sectors such as house building have meant that project costs have risen and affected the viability of sites.”

But full year figures for 2015 also published by the Office of National Statistics show a new record output from the Scottish construction industry last year of £14.5bn. This compares to a previous record output of just over £14bn over the 12 months to September 2015.

Commenting on the new figures, Scottish Building Federation managing director Vaughan Hart said that the data “reinforce previous trends with record levels of output being driven by an infrastructure sector that contributed more than £4bn of output to the industry last year – that’s 28% of the industry’s total output over the year.”