Leading industry figures believe statistics from the ONS are inaccurate

Construction output statistics from the Office for National Statistics are misleading and becoming increasingly irrelevant, according to leading figures from the industry.

The ONS figures for last year were baloney

Paul Sheffield, Kier

Many economists believe data collection problems have led the ONS to release inaccurate construction output figures. For the six months to September 2010, for example, construction output was estimated to have risen 13.5% at a time when the market was deemed flat.

Paul Sheffield, chief executive of Kier, believes the data is “misleading.” He said: “I wouldn’t run our business based on construction output figures. For example, the ONS figures for last year were baloney.”

Stephen Ratcliffe, director of UKCG, supported this view and added: “The quarterly figures from last year were extraordinarily high and we simply don’t believe them. There are problems with the methodology.”

We simply don’t believe the quarterly figures from last year. There are problems with the methodology

Stephen Ratcliffe, UK Contractors Group

Kelly Forrest, senior economist with the Construction Products Association, believes changes made by the ONS to its system of collecting data have skewed recent figures.

“Monthly output data is a problem as contractors don’t know what value of work has been done in the past month”, she said.

The ONS plans to carry out a review of its methodology this year. A spokesperson for the body said: “A routine methodological review of the questionnaire is planned for 2011 … This review is being conducted to aid interpretation.”