The Office for National Statistics has revealed in a report that output in the construction sector between July and September 2016 is down 1.1 per cent in comparison with the previous quarter (April-June).
Despite months of speculation and conflicting analyses and predictions, these are the first concrete statistics to be released post-Brexit. Industry figures have had their say:
Michael Thirkettle, Chief Executive of leading interdisciplinary international construction and property consultancy McBains Cooper, said:
“These figures are an obvious continuation of post-Brexit uncertainty, but we remain optimistic about the long-term picture.
“The weak pound is also a continuing concern as it means increased costs of materials, although this may be balanced out by increased Asian and US investment in construction projects in the UK.
“However, the industry will be looking for the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement later this month to provide a boost to the sector, as well as giving a kick-start to the house-building programme.
“Currently, we are building nowhere near enough homes to meet the government’s target of a million new homes by 2020 and so more emphasis needs to be placed on expanding local authority housebuilding and the build-to-rent sectors.
“Brexit also threatens to choke the supply of skilled migrant labour from the EU on which the industry is heavily reliant, so skills shortages also need to be addressed.”
Mark Farmer, chief executive of Cast Consultancy and author of a recent government-commissioned review in to the construction industry, said:
“While disappointing, today’s figures come as no surprise to an industry that operates within an environment of significant uncertainty. A steady hand of long term policy that supports housing development and infrastructure investment is what is now needed now to help smooth demand volatility.”
“Despite the fall in output, it would be wrong to believe that this will reduce the construction industry’s skills problems. This is a short term relief from a long term and structural problem.
“Increasing productivity and capacity requires taking significant steps that are all about long term sustainable delivery. The government is going in the right direction here through their endorsement of modular housing and increased acceptance of wider housing tenure diversity.
“The connection of these two policy initiatives offers great opportunity for the construction industry to modernise itself and improve output potential in the future.”