Poor weather led to delays on jobs, latest official figures say

Construction output dropped for the second successive month in August, the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show. 

Heavy rainfall and lower-than-average temperatures had resulted in delays to planned working, resulting in a 0.5% fall in volume output across the month. 

Artists impression of an HS2 train

Source: HS2

The scaling back of HS2 could have a knock-on effect for construction output in the medium-term

This came after a 0.4% decrease in July, figures for that month having been revised up from the previously estimated fall of 0.5%. 

The decline was driven by a 1.5% fall in new work, with repair and maintenance up 1% on the month.  

Five of nine construction sectors recorded by the ONS saw a month-on-month decrease, with private commercial (4.1%) and private housing (1.4%) experiencing the most severe declines within the new work category. 

By contrast, the broader UK economy experienced a modest return to growth, with a 0.2% rise. 

Clive Docwra, managing director of property and construction consultancy McBains, said the continued decline within construction came as “little surprise” given high interest rates and caution among investors, particularly in the housebuilding sector. 

“Longer-term, the scaling back of HS2 is also likely to have a knock-on effect in terms of new commercial and infrastructure contracts further down supply chains, so the outlook is now increasingly uncertain in other work sectors too,” he said. 

Despite the recent contraction, construction grew overall by 0.9% in the three months to August, with equivalent rises in both new work and repair and maintenance.