Business barometer Experts argue over whether repair and maintenance deal signals new boom

Kier completed a hat-trick in November, coming top of the monthly leader board for the third month in a row. This time it was mostly thanks to a £110.2m repair and maintenance project for Barnsley council under the Decent Homes initiative.

R&M was the subject of some debate last week after the Office for National Statistics showed it was 10% higher in the third quarter of 2009 compared with the previous three months. Although some said this pointed to a boom in R&M work in 2010, which has been the case coming out of previous recessions; others questioned the accuracy of the figures.

Writing in his new blog for the Building website, construction economist Brian Green said: “Judging by the yelps of anguish from the Federation of Master Builders, I suspect there is a lot less R&M work about than the official figures suggest.”

Balfour Beatty finished in second place with 50 projects worth a total of £112m. These included a £22.2m job for East Manchester academy and a £16.4m business and enterprise centre – both for Manchester council. To complete a trio of jobs for the same client, it also won a £15m deal for Burnage high school in Manchester.

Sir Robert McAlpine came in third place with three jobs worth £96.9m, largely owing to an £84.5m Building Schools for the Future scheme for Newcastle council.

The total work won by the top 30 contractors was about a third down on October at £1.18bn compared to £1.71bn. Meanwhile the number of contracts won was 347 compared to 275, producing an average contract value of £3.4m compared with £6.2m in October.

In November 2008, when Kier also topped the leader board, the average contract value for the top 30 was £4.3m. In November 2007, when Sir Robert McAlpine topped the table, the average contract value was £7m.

Balfour Beatty continued to dominate the annual rolling leader board, by a distance of £4.2bn, for the second month running.

See attached graphics for tables.