Hudson Contract reports average earnings fell 10% last month compared to December’s number

Housebuilders worried about customers’ ability to buy their homes helped keep a lid on wage inflation last month, a leading payroll firm has said.

Average earnings plunged by 10% last month compared to December, according to Hudson Contract, with the average figure across all regions now £863 per week.

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Housebuilders have become worried about consumers’ ability to buy homes in the wake of the rise in the cost of living

Managing director Ian Anfield said: “In the run-up to Christmas, it felt like housebuilders had their foot flat to the floor.

“They have not exactly put the brakes on since but they have definitely eased off on the accelerator.

“It seems housebuilders are concerned about the impact of inflation and the ability of potential buyers to borrow the money to purchase the homes they are going to build.”

Earnings had risen by 1.6% to £959 at the end of last year, the highest December pay level on record and 5.2% higher than the same month a year previously.

Anfield added: “Our clients are saying they are still busy but more than one or two are also telling us it’s not as difficult to find skilled labour and that the 2021 flood of tender documents coming through the door has settled to a steady stream this year.”

Monthly construction output returned to its pre-pandemic level for the first time in December, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Quarterly construction output rose 1% in the final three months of 2021, compared with the previous quarter, with both new work and repair and maintenance increasing by 1% and 0.8% respectively.

Output as whole for construction was up 12.7% on 2020’s lockdown affected figure.