Pre-referendum bounce for construction industry in April

Jake Cordell
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Private sector housebuilding is going up
Private sector housebuilding is going up (Source: Getty)

The construction industry became the latest bit of the UK economy to shake off Brexit uncertainty as output grew at its fastest pace since January 2014 on a monthly basis.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this morning showed that the construction industry was 2.5 per cent larger in April than in March – its largest single increase in 28 months.

However, the sector is still 3.7 per cent smaller than it was this time last year, as one good month was not enough to offset the industry's broader decline over the past 12 months.

Moreover, monthly figures for construction are inherently volatile, and on the less erratic rolling numbers, output still declined by 2.1 per cent in the three months to April compared to the three months to March.

Construction firms took on 2.9 per cent more "new work" in April than they did in March, while repair and maintenance work ticked up by 1.9 per cent.

Housebuilding by the private sector grew by 2.7 per cent over the month and was up by 5.8 per cent over the past year. Construction work by the public sector, however, plummeted by 4.4 per cent during the month and was one-fifth lower in April 2016 compared to April 2015.

Figures out this week have shown the UK economy could be holding up despite fears about uncertainty and a slowdown ahead of the EU referendum. Exports grew at their fastest pace since the crisis in April, while manufacturing output also climbed by 0.8 per cent, smashing expectations for a small decline.