Construction output up 0.9% in final quarter of 2012 but still down 9.3% year-on-year


Construction output in the final quarter of 2012 grew by 0.9% compared to the previous quarter, but overall output was down 9.3% year-on-year, the latest Office for National Statistics figures have shown.

The ONS figures showed the private housing and infrastructure sectors contributed most to the quarter-on-quarter increase in overall output, up 5.9% and 4.2% respectively.

The ONS said total output grew by 0.9% quarter-on-quarter - an upwards revision from the 0.3% growth in an earlier estimate.

But total output was down 9.3% when comparing the fourth quarter of 2012 with the same period in 2011, with public housing and private commercial work both falling 17% year-on-year. Infrastructure work fell 6.1% year-on-year.

Comparing non-seasonally adjusted growth rates, total output fell16.2% between November and December 2012, with private commercial work down19.5% and infrastructure down10.5%.

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner said: “Today’s figures show a welcome increase in output, both in the infrastructure sector and across the wider industry.

“However, it must be recognised that such growth as there is in the industry remains fragile. Positive figures in the infrastructure sector mask significant falls in activity in other areas.

“CECA is working closely with government to identify new opportunities to boost activity in the sector on behalf of our members, and hope this work will continue to bear fruit in boosting output in the future.”

Simon Rawlinson, head of strategic research at consultant EC Harris, said: “Today’s Construction Output release from the ONS confirms that the decline in seasonally volumes of work has undone undoing most of the recovery seen prior to mid-2011. Activity levels in the crucial new build sector actually fell by 11.5%, a devastating contraction for the construction industry.”

“Pain has been felt across the board, with double digit declines in the Infrastructure and Commercial Sectors as well as the expected contraction in publicly funded work.”

“The extent and duration of the synchronised contraction of work across all sectors is particularly damaging for the industry, potentially affecting long-term capacity for large and small projects alike.”

“When recovery does come in the private sector, resource may prove to be more scarce than expected.”