Conditions remain tough for specialist contractors but latest trade survey shows signs of improvement

Construction worker

Trading conditions for specialist contractors are beginning to show signs of improvement, the latest trade survey from the National Specialist Contractors Council has found.

The NSCC survey found that whilst trading conditions in the specialist sector remained tough, there were early signs that things could be starting to improve, with 39% of specialist contractors reporting an increase in enquiries and 36% an increase in orders in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The survey found that the balance of both enquiries and orders, which is the difference between respondents reporting an increase and those reporting a decrease, improved significantly to 11% and 2% respectively compared to -5% and -16% this time last year.

The survey also found that capacity levels have fallen with just 61% of Specialist Contractors working at over 75% capacity compared to 72% in the previous quarter, which reflects the lack of work available in the industry.

The majority of Specialist Contractors are still looking less than three months ahead and market demand, cost of materials and availability of labour and finance are cited as the most important factors affecting their plans.

The medium to long term outlook appears to be more encouraging with 56% of specialists anticipating an increase in workload and 44% expecting their businesses to expand over the next 12 months.

NSCC president Kevin Louch, said: “The Government has recognised that construction has a direct impact on the UK economy and growth can only be realised with investment in new projects, innovation and skills.”