Initial figures for January look poor but February is predicted to be better

ONS figures released last week showed that less work was done in January than in December, despite the cold weather towards the back end of 2010. During January the value of construction output was £6.9bn, compared with £7.5bn in December.

January’s figures are not significantly higher than in January last year, when output was £6.6bn and the industry was also hit by severe weather.

While, on the face of it, these figures look poor, a note of caution was raised by Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association. He said: “There must be a significant lag in the output stats as December and January are both down (potentially representing the bad weather in November and December). As a result, I believe that February’s output stats will be sharply up.”

Highlighting the volatility in the ONS statistics and the potential for previous figures to be revised, Francis added: “This data isn’t seasonally adjusted and that will upgrade the output figures for January, while late responses will also end up boosting output for January.”