February construction output worse than originally suggested

Thursday 13 April 2017

February saw the UK construction industry slow dramatically as infrastructure work saw a decline, according to the latest figures. Newly-released data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this month reveals that the fall in construction work during February was worse than previously thought.

Output across the sector declined by 1.7 per cent on a month-on-month basis, which is far from in-line with the 0.1 per cent gain that industry analysts were expecting. The ONS' figures also show that the fall in output recorded in January was revised upward, however, no growth was shown.

Looking at the figures on a year-by-year basis, February saw the UK construction sector increase by 0.5 per cent. However, this fell short of the predicted 1.9 per cent and January's yearly rise of 2.3 per cent. 

One area that did see positive results in February was the repair and maintenance sub-sector. This grew by 1.2 per cent compared to January and saw a 0.8 per cent annual increase, which is the most positive result across the industry. 

Chief UK and European economist at IHS Markit, Howard Archer, has warned that the UK's construction industry is set to experience some difficulties throughout the rest of the year.

"The strong likelihood that the economy will slow appreciably as 2017 progresses and a lacklustre housing market are serious concerns for the construction sector," he said.

"There is also evidence that some clients are reluctant to commit to major projects in an uncertain environment. Additionally, construction companies' input costs are being pushed markedly higher by a sharply weakened pound. A substantial amount of building components and materials are imported."

Another report released this month also showed a fall in the Markit/CIPS Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI). This declined in March to reach 52.2 compared to February's figure of 52.5, further indicating tough times ahead for the construction industry.

The decline in output and infrastructure projects is likely to put a strain on self-employed individuals and contractors, who may see fewer jobs coming in as a result. This can put a financial strain on your business, which can be hard to deal with.

Rather than removing your focus from the acquisition of new projects, freelancer and contractor accountants can help you manage your admin tasks and finances. Not only will this help free up your time, it can also ensure any drop in work does not have too big an impact on your finances.

By Victoria McDonnell

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