Repair and maintenance a rare area of growth for the sector hit by wet weather

Construction output fell by 0.9% in the first quarter of the year, mirroring the same fall as the previous quarter. 

The level of output from the sector over the period stood 0.7% lower than in the same quarter the previous year, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 


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Repair and maintenance grew 0.3% as housing associations turned attention towards existing stock

It primarily reflects a decline in new work of 1.8%, driven by private commercial new work, which fell 5.3%. 

Repair and maintenance increased 0.3%, however, with anecdotal evidence from the Bank of England’s Agents’ summary of business conditions report for the quarter suggesting housing associations were directing budget towards repairs. 

The ONS said weak performance in the early months of the year may have stemmed partly from wet weather in February, with Fraser Johns, finance director Beard, describing the figures as “hardly surprising” given the conditions. 

But Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said the figures showed “a worrying trend emerging”, adding that construction output declined in each of the four months of 2024 

“While survey data collected by the ONS indicates that continued wet and windy conditions once again contributed to the struggles of construction firms, the stagnation seen across the UK economy suggests this is part of a wider problem.” 

Clive Docwra, managing director of property and construction consultancy McBains, said: “After last month’s figures showed the construction sector still mired in technical recession, today’s figures come as a further blow for the industry.  

“A close to 2% fall in new work across the board highlights the continuing caution shown by investors being reluctant to commit to new projects while so many economic uncertainties remain.  

“New work in private housing in particular remains in the doldrums, seeing a fall of more than 4%.  

“Many in the industry are crossing their fingers for a post-election boost but today’s figures show that whichever party forms the next government has a job on its hands to restore confidence and encourage growth.” 

And Scott Motley, head of programme, project and cost management at Aecom, warned: “The continued high cost of doing business will still make for challenging landscape post-election until interest rates drop significantly.”