Scaffolding Association comments on latest construction output statistics

Latest construction output statistics show growth in September but quarterly output is still down.

Latest data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that construction output improved in September, growing in volume terms by 1.3% compared with the previous month.

It was the first increase since June 2021 and the largest since March 2021 when output increased by 4.8%.

The latest ONS numbers do however show that despite marginal growth in September, the last quarter which also included a 1.2% fall in July and 0.7% drop in August, contributed to a quarterly decline of 1.5% – the first quarterly fall since the arrival of the pandemic early in 2020.

In monetary terms construction output in the latest numbers was £141m (1%) below immediate pre-pandemic levels with new work down £334m (3.5%) and repair & maintenance work up by £194m (3.9%), when compared with the same period. 

The latest statistics closely follow the autumn budget which indicated the government’s intentions to invest in construction projects with more than £30bn being earmarked for building and improving roads over the next 5-years and an additional £1.8bn for housing projects, on top of the £10bn that had already been committed over the same period.

However, with no end in sight for the rising price of materials and supply chain challenges which are having an astronomical impact on construction work costs, the private sector may well be more cautious and look to complete their works more cost-effectively once the situation has stabilised. 

This thought process appears to show in the latest numbers with orders for private housing only growing by 1.4% in the quarter, while orders from the public housing industry have grown by 59.6%.

At the same time orders for infrastructure work and private commercial and industrial jobs declined, with all non-residential work dropping by 15.2%.

Robert Candy, Chief Executive of the Scaffolding Association commented:

“The immediate challenges will need to stabilise before housebuilders and consumers will have the confidence to commit.

We’ve already seen evidence of some major private projects putting an abrupt pause on their plans – the unknown and lack of certainty on material availability and cost is having a huge impact and unfortunately there is no end in sight”.

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