Construction output falls 7% year on year, driven by declines in housing, public sector and commcercial work


Construction output has continued to fall year on year, with the industry shrinking 7% in February, driven by declines in housing, public sector and commercial work.

The Office for National Statistics figures for February 2013 show that construction output fell 7% in February, compared to the same month in 2012, with new public housing down 8.1%, private housing down 7.1%, commercial work down 6.5% and other public work down 21.1%.

Repair and maintenance also fell 5.6% year on year, while infrastructure rose 1% year on year.

When comparing the three months to February with the same period the previous year, output shrank 8.9%, with public other new work – which excludes housing - down 23.7%, commercial work down 9.8%, and public housing down 14.4%.

Infrastructure work fell 7.6%, while repairs and maintenance work was also down 5.6%, mainly due to an 8.3% fall in housing repairs.

However, output increased by 5.5% in February compared to the previous month, with increases in nearly all sectors month on month, with the exception of private commercial work, which showed a fall of 0.5%.

The largest increase was in new public housing, which rose 18.5% between January and February.

Construction Products Association economics director Noble Francis said the figures indicated a pickup in February as the industry recovered from the poor weather experienced in January, but this masked an underlying downward trend.

He said the three months to February represented the worst quarter of construction output since the first quarter of 1987 and indicated that construction output was likely to fall this year.

He said: “It was expected that construction output in February would be considerably higher than in January because weather conditions significantly improved. Despite this rise, it also highlights the underlying trend that output in the last three months was 9.8% lower than a year earlier.

“Of most concern was the fall in the largest sector, private commercial, which fell 0.4% compared with weather affected January.”

Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) director general Nick Baveystock, said: “The on-going weakness in infrastructure output is concerning, especially given the government’s commitment to infrastructure acting as a catalyst for economic recovery and job creation.

“The impact of the spending cuts made in 2010 now appear to be feeding down and becoming apparent, notably reducing activity on site.”