Survey shows slowdown has affected business strategy at 40% of firms, with revenues or margins hit at almost a quarter

More than 40% of construction consultants and engineers say that the credit crunch has affected their business strategy and around a quarter have had their margins or revenues hit, according to a new survey.

Industry body the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) said in its state of business report, out today, that concerns about the impact of the global economic turmoil on the construction sector are widespread.

The UK slowdown had affected the revenues of 23% of respondents - surveyed over the summer - while 25% said their margins had suffered. Almost half forecast a recession in the UK in 2009.

Nelson Ogunshakin
ACE chief executive Ogunshakin: "The construction sector is crucial to the long-term health of the UK economy"

But the report said that there are still “grounds for optimism in the sector”, with opportunities for growth in infrastructure and public non-residential sectors.

It said that consultants and engineers view transport, energy and utilities as key growth sectors and are increasingly looking to foreign markets for work.

Nelson Ogunshakin, chief executive of ACE, said: “The economic situation is serious, and ACE is working with its members to assist them through troubled times, but it is not all doom and gloom and we need to make that point.

“The construction sector is crucial to the long-term health of the UK economy and we need to have confidence in it and to encourage investment if the economy is to recover in that long term.”

Ogunshakin also urged the government to “hold its nerve” and maintain public spending on construction projects. The industry should not be used as an “economic regulator”, he said.