New construction output figures published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that growth continued to increase in the final Quarter of 2019, albeit more slowly. However, although overall new orders increased, private house building new orders collapsed by 8.5%.
Construction output increased by 0.5% in the final Quarter (Q4) of 2019 when compared with Q3 (July to Sept) 2019 and was driven by a 0.8% growth in new work. The 0.8% rise in new work in Q4 2019 was because of growth in all sectors apart from private new housing and public other new work, both of which fell 1.1%; the largest positive contributions came from private commercial and public new housing, which grew by 2.5% and 8.4% respectively.
New orders grew by 4.4% in Q4 (Oct to Dec) 2019; this rise was driven by an 11.2% rise in all other work but offset by an 8.5% fall in new housing.
Clive Docwra, managing director of McBains, said: “Today’s ONS figures are a sign of the real potential of UK construction in 2020. More than anything, these figures reflect an underlying resilience in the sector – given that they cover a tumultuous political period at the end of 2019.
“Still, we’re not entirely out of the woods. The government has offered little in the way of detail on what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will look like, and stoked anxiety by ruling out any extension to the negotiations beyond December 2020.
“Until the sector can see what the future entails with our nearest trading partner, and key source of skilled labour, confidence and funding towards new projects is likely to be stymied.”
Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), Brian Berry said: “The positive overall figure for last year shouldn’t mask the disappointing performance of the repair and maintenance sector which saw minimal growth of 0.7% and a fall of 1.7% in private housing repair and maintenance.
“A national retrofit strategy would help boost the domestic repair and maintenance sector, providing confidence and support to homeowners and builders to make the necessary upgrades to our ageing housing stock. At this same time, this would help to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”