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Construction SMEs' workloads continue to fall

28 Jul 10 Construction workloads for small building companies have shrunk for the 10th consecutive quarter, according to new figures from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Construction workloads for small building companies have shrunk for the 10th consecutive quarter, according to new figures from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

However, its latest State of Trade Survey, covering the second quarter of 2010, showed signs that the continued fall in workloads may be nearing its end, with the proportion of firms reporting higher workloads overall increasing from 19% in Q1 to 32% in the second quarter.

There was a noticeable levelling off in the rate of decline for residential work. Some 60% of FMB companies undertaking social new housing work reported no change to their workloads, along with 52% of those carrying out social repair, maintenance and improvement, and 46% of members involved with private new housing.

Across the whole industry, more than half of FMB members reported no change expectations for workloads in each of eight sectors for the coming quarter.

In addition, 53% of respondents reported no change to staffing levels; with 60% not expecting to make any staffing changes over the next six months.

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Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the FMB said: “Underneath the headline results we are seeing grounds for some optimism in that workloads and employment are at least beginning to stabilize around their current albeit much reduced levels.

“The recovery in the wider construction sector is still very fragile, and the signs of stabilisation in the SME sector are not the same as actual growth.

“Private new housing workloads have been declining every quarter since quarter three of 2007 and new social housing has only seen workload growth in two quarters since 1999. There needs to be significant growth, and not just in housing but in the construction sector as a whole if we are to have a sustained recovery.”

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