UK construction output just fell by the most since 2012

 
Emma Haslett
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Construction activity fell in the three months to November (Source: Getty)

The UK's construction industry showed more weakness in November as output shrank for the sixth quarter in a row in the three months to November, according to official data.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed output contracted by two per cent in the three months to November, the largest fall since August 2012.

However, on a month-on-month basis, output edged up 0.4 per cent between October and November.

While work in non-housing, commercial construction and infrastructure fell, private housebuilding was the only area where volumes increased, rising 0.8 per cent during the three months.

"The construction sector is clearly being hampered by lacklustre UK economic activity and heightened economic, political and Brexit uncertainties," said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club.

"Some companies are cautious over committing to major construction projects in the commercial sector.

"It still looks inevitable that construction suffered marked contraction over the fourth quarter [of 2017]," he added.

Earlier this month IHS Markit's purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the sector showed a drop in commercial activity was holding back growth.

Duncan Brock, director of customer relationships at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, suggested political uncertainty was to blame for the fall in activity.

“[It is] testament to Brexit-related uncertainty on the horizon and the sector’s fear about the direction of the UK economy, as clients still hesitated to spend on bigger projects,” he said.

Read more: The UK's construction sector has contracted again, no thanks to HS2

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