Industrial workloads also grew

Dark cranes building shutterstock

Construction output remained flat in spring as a rise in commercial work was offset by a fall in non-residential public work, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Output moved in the right direction in May, inching up 0.6% on the previous month and reversing the declines seen in April and March.

Growth was boosted by a 10.2% expansion in private industrial work, which had contracted in the months since February.

But taken together, construction activity remained stagnant in the three months to the end of May, growing by 0%. This was compared with the three months to the end of February.

The spring months saw an increase in new private commercial work and public housing, by £152m and £141m respectively, but these were offset by fall workloads in other sectors – including a £229m decrease in non-residential new public work.

Clive Docwra, managing director of consultant McBains, said the data may only reflect a “temporary bounce” but admitted: “We expected a much bleaker picture given the continuing fog surrounding Brexit and pessimistic predictions of a sluggish economy.”

But Sarah McMonagle, director of communications at the FMB, said the latest figures still show “the construction sector is at a standstill”.

She added: “Whoever wins the race for prime minister [needs to] take decisive action in their first days in office by intervening to stimulate our waning sector.”