Hot on the heels, or rather wheels, of reports that white van man is taking to new vehicles on UK roads in numbers not seen for more than six years, so the humble skip is once again landing with a resounding thump on the highways and bye-ways of our towns and cities.
And, according to the RICS, that is the best bell-weather yet that the construction industry is on the up.The RICS Skip Score looks at the number of skip licences issued per 100,000 people across England and Wales, covering both residential and small scale commercial developments.
Local councils provided data on the number of these permits between October 2012 and January 2014 to create an overview of SME construction activity.
Similar to the Crane Index, which highlights the number of cranes dominating the skylines, the skip score measures the number of containers parked up on our public roads and are a very visible indicator of work being undertaken on a property.
Indeed, the conspicuous absence of skips in many residential conurbations during the downturn can now be seen as a direct consequence of the reigning in of household spending across the board.
Interestingly, the latest skip score also dispels the myth that the recovery is almost entirely confined to the south of the country.
A snapshot of domestic small scale construction activity reveals that the North is actually out skipping the south, with four times the number of skips in the North East compared to the South East.
In fact, cities like Sheffield. Liverpool, Cardiff and Swansea have enjoyed something of a skip boom, with supply reportedly coming under increasing pressure from contractors anxious to tackle a back log of RMI projects.
Whilst not reflected in the latest Survey, which was completed before the devastating flooding that engulfed the region, the South West is also reporting an unprecedented demand for skips, with the great mop up continuing to gather momentum as insurance claims get settled.
Builders we have spoken to in those parts are expecting the remedial work to be on going for the next two years at least.
Not every skip, of course, is filled with builders’ waste, but their happy re-appearance on our streets is a real indicator of a greater confidence in the wider economy.
And, with RMI work forecast to grow by around 2 per cent this year, and double that in 2015, the construction industry is surely no more than a simple hop, “skip” and jump back to full recovery.