Statisitcs conflict with reports of activity decline in official ONS data

Further doubt has been thrown on official ONS figures after the latest Construction Trade Survey found that activity in the first quarter of 2011 has increased year on year.

The Construction Products Association survey shows 43% of contractors said that compared with a year ago there was more work, in contrast to ONS statistics that claim activity fell by 4%.

Confirming an analysis of the ONS figures by Building magazine last week, Noble Francis, economics director at the CPA, said: ‘This survey highlights that construction improved during the first quarter of the year, contrasting sharply with the ONS’s construction output figures that indicated construction fell 4% over the same period.

“However, this improving situation is compared to the final quarter of last year, which was badly affected by poor weather in November and December.”

Yet the survey also emphasises that public sector “retrenchment” and weak demand from the private sector means that prospects for the rest of the year remain poor.

Francis said: “The industry’s near term future is likely to be extremely challenging with domestic demand remaining subdued, exacerbated by expectations of further rises in fuel, energy and materials costs.”