Construction is still a long way from a sustained recovery, according to a new industry survey.
Today, official figures confirmed that the wider UK economy is out of its 18-month recession. Construction output was flat, after modest growth in the previous two quarters.
But the FMB, which represents small- and medium-sized builders, said that its survey for the last three months of 2009 made for grim reading.
Some 44% of its members expect their workloads to decline in the first three months of 2010, and only 18% of FMB firms expect their workloads to increase.
The final quarter of 2009 also revealed a major decline in workloads and employment for FMB firms and, based on this outlook, the Federation concluded that “2010 looks sets to begin with a ninth consecutive quarter of deterioration”.
Richard Diment, director-general of the FMB said: “The employment figures from our members’ survey are particularly alarming as, even after seven consecutive quarters of layoffs, 38% of FMB firms reported that they had cut staffing levels. Even more alarming is the fact that 33% of FMB firms expect to have to make staff cuts in the first three months of this year.
“Despite the urgent need to cut the public expenditure deficit, investment in the construction sector offers the best hope of propelling this country back into recovery because every £1 spent on construction output generates a total of £2.84 in total economic activity.
“Any cuts in construction would merely cripple an already badly damaged skills base and supply chain and seriously inhibit the building industry’s recovery.”
“The Government must do all it can to help our beleaguered building industry because without its help the industry won’t be able to deliver the homes and infrastructure that will be required when the UK does finally move out of recession.”