Contractors World


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Contractors World UK & Ireland
2011 Volume 1 Issue 8
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Construction News - Economic Outlook

Mix messages from all sides

Photo: ©Penny Mayes

Reading newspapers, listening to Government statements, reports from associations and talking to contractors and plant hire companies get very confusing.

Mix messages from all sides

There is much discussion about the dire state of the construction industry, announcements from the Government on what is going to be done to stimulate the industry but little mention by the powers that be of many of these schemes being put on hold for further consultations.

As the editor of a magazine for contractors, I naturally talk to such companies and again get mixed messages. Some report a high level of activity while others are struggling and could do with some stimuli.

Professional trade associations such as The Construction Products Association are tending to report more and more despair as their latest statements indicate,

Prospects for Construction Weaken as New Orders Fall

In a statement the Construction Products Association says that the prospects for a recovery in construction output weakened still further as the latest new orders figures from the Office of National Statics for the third quarter showed a fall of more than 5% compared with the same quarter last year. New orders in the first nine months of 2011 are 14% lower than in the same period last year.

Construction Products Association Chief Executive, Michael Ankers    Commenting on these figures, the Construction Products Association Chief Executive, Michael Ankers (right) said: ‘Although new orders have improved since the previous quarter, this is still the lowest figure for Q3 since 1980. As expected the fall is sharpest in public sector construction – education, health, and social housing - and although there is some pick up in orders for private sector commercial work, this is heavily focused in London and the south east and is not strong enough to compensate for the sharp decline in orders for public sector work.

Indications are positive - if they are activated swiftly

The Construction Products Association welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement confirming an increase for investment in infrastructure projects in today’s Autumn Statement, although overall capital spending continues to fall.

Responding to this announcement, Michael Ankers said: ‘Improving the quality of our infrastructure has a key part to play in raising business competitiveness and stimulating economic growth and it is encouraging that the government has recognised this. Schemes like the improvement to the A14 trunk road will improve access to key ports from our manufacturing heartland and help our export drive. At a time when construction output is falling and forecast to continue to do so for the next couple of years, the additional investment on infrastructure will help create new jobs and generate as much as £75 billion of economic activity across the economy as a whole.

‘Today’s announcements, however, do little to reverse the sharp fall in government capital spending – from £62bn in 2010/11 to £45bn in 2013/14. The most important step for the long term is to underpin investment on infrastructure with private finance and so the announcement that an additional £20bn of funding from pension funds and capital markets is particularly welcome. Funding of this kind will help create a long term sustainable framework for investment in our infrastructure which is set apart from the vagaries of government spending cycles.’

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Page updated: December 2011

 

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