Letter said: ’few in the industry any longer have any confidence in the ONS statistics’

The Construction Products Association has written to chancellor George Osborne urging him to revamp the way construction statistics are collected following concerns over the first quarter GDP figures issued last month.

Michael Ankers, chief executive of the CPA, said in the letter that “few in the industry any longer have any confidence in the ONS statistics and this has a serious impact [on how] companies make investment and other policy decisions.”

This follows the publication of GDP figures that found that construction output had fallen by 4.7% in the first three months of 2011, when most other output indicators have suggested a broadly flat market with a little growth. The fall, which the industry argues is an error, took 0.3% off the total GDP growth figure of 0.5% for the first quarter, nearly halving the recorded growth of the whole economy over the period.

Ankers continued: “The implications for policy-making of this kind of inaccuracy are extremely significant both in terms of the wider economy and interest rates, as well as for more specific measures related to the industry itself.”

Exclusive data from Barbour ABI compiled for Building, alongside further data from product manufacturers and specialist contractors published this week supports the view that the construction economy did not contract in the first quarter.