Surveyors report housing workloads falling fastest, but overall rate of decline is slowing

Construction workloads fell again during the first three months of the year but the pace of decline began to slow, according to the RICS.

Its UK construction market survey found 45% more surveyors reporting a fall rather than a rise in overall workloads, an improvement on the previous net balance of -47%.

Housing workloads eased particularly, with 49% more surveyors reporting a fall than a rise in private housing, up from -66%, and 13% reporting a fall in public housing, 7% less than the previous quarter.

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said the numbers reflected government housing statistics. These, he said, “saw a small rise in the first quarter of 2009, and could be aligned to recent signs of a gentle pick-up in activity in the housing market”.

Private commercial and industrial workloads recorded the worst figures, with net balances of -57 and -61 respectively;

The infrastructure sector suffered its largest ever decline, with 34% more surveyors reporting a fall rather than a rise. Surveyors said the delay in public projects combined with a lack of available finance were behind the pessimism.

Some 72% more surveyors expected profit to be down rather than up over the coming months, but there was a slight rise in the number who supposed that workloads would improve over the next 12 months - 38% more surveyors expected a fall than a rise, up from 45% at the end of 2008.