Workloads survey indicates slight decrease in overall rate of order book decline

The slowdown in the civil engineering sector eased slightly in the first quarter of the year, according to the latest data from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association.

The body’s first quarter workloads trends survey showed total order book levels continued to fall in the first three months of 2009 but indicated a slight decrease in the rate of decline due to improved results from Scotland and Wales.

Rail: positive growth in workloads

All workload categories were negative except for rail, which remained positive but showed a “sharp drop” on the previous quarter. The decline in workload on motorways and utilities accelerated, in contrast to local roads and preliminary works which showed a reduction in the rate of decline from Q4 2008.

CECA director Rosemary Beales said: “While we hope the slowdown in the fall continues, it is too early to speculate on a recovery in 2009.”

She added: “Although the recent Budget contained some welcome measures that may boost areas such as energy and housing in 2009/10, it did little for the industry overall. The outlook is not positive for workload up to 2012 and is distinctly bleak beyond it.

“Contractors need greater confidence if they are going to continue to invest in training and technology to meet the demands that will follow the upturn."

"Whilst we appreciate confidence is in short supply across the economy, the Government must take a new approach to critical national infrastructure and provide clear and consistent forward plans for investment and improvement.”