Construction sector edges towards recovery as private housing work soars

Sebastian McCarthy
House Building Boosted By Help To Buy Scheme And Overseas Investment
Construction productivity was harmed earlier in the year following bad weather conditions (Source: Getty)

The UK construction sector exceeded expectations today as it showed signs of recovery, with month-on-month output rising 2.9 per cent in May.

Growth in private housing repair and maintenance work, which soared 7.3 per cent in May, fueled the bounce back from a weak start to the year.

However, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the industry still suffered a third consecutive decline in May, with output falling by 1.7 per cent in the quarter to May compared with the previous three months.

A drop in new work, which tumbled 2.5 per cent, was the predominant driver behind the three-month on three-month fall in construction output.

Blane Perrotton, managing director of the national property consultancy and surveyors Naismiths, said: "New orders in the construction industry are like potential World Cup winners – they’re getting fewer and fewer.

"Across the country, demand is patchy at best. While we’re still seeing real momentum in the North West and West Midlands, it’s a different story in London and much of the South East, where developers are pausing on new projects and concentrating on finishing existing ones."

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Yet the figures out this afternoon will largely come as relief to an industry which has been dented by economic slowdown and bad weather as the Beast from the East hit construction levels in the first quarter this year.

Read more: Construction output growth picks up to hit seven-month high in June

The news comes a week after a closely-followed barometer for the sector reported that the UK’s construction sector enjoyed its sharpest rise in output since November, driven by a rise in commercial building and the continued demand for residential work.

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