Health and education builds the outliers as cost rises hit confidence

Construction project starts headed south in the three months to the end of July, the latest data from information firm Glenigan has said.

The analyst’s August Construction Review reported that work commencing on site was 31% lower than a year ago and fell back 18% against the preceding three months.

Detailed planning permissions were also down 18% on a year ago, while the value of major project starts was half that of the same period in 2021.

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Project starts in London fell one third in the three months to July, Glenigan said

It attributed the gloomy outlook to continuing supply chain issues brought about by the Russia-Ukraine War, with Glenigan’s senior economist Rhys Gadsby saying the “ripple of international conflict is still sending shockwaves across the construction sector”.

He added: “Ongoing material inflation, high energy tariffs and a generally weak economic outlook imply we can expect slow progress, at least until the end of 2022.

“However, small spots of hope across some verticals and regions indicate that the green shoots of recovery are there, waiting for the right time to flourish.”

Underlying health construction starts increased by 44% during the three months to July and 9% against the previous year, while underlying education project starts showed modest improvement – though still down 27% on the previous year.

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Industrial project starts were up 7% on the previous year and planning approvals were very high, increasing by a fifth against the previous three months.

The rest of the non-residential sector performed poorly, as did residential. Project starts in this area declined 28% against the previous three months, while detailed planning approvals fell by a third.

Regionally, the East Midlands had the strongest results, with the value of project starts rising by 10% against the preceding three months.

Project starts fell back in all other parts of the UK, except Wales, where starts rose by 1% against the previous three months.

London and the North East experienced the steepest declines in project starts, down 35% and 32% respectively.