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Wed July 08 2020

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Construction output down 40% in April

12 Jun Construction output in Great Britain fell by 40.1% in April 2020 compared with March 2020, according official government data.

Many building sites shut their gates in April
Many building sites shut their gates in April

As the nation shut down in an attempt to limit the spready of coronavirus, the value of total construction output in April fell to £7,615m.

There was a 41.2% decrease in new work and a 38.1% decrease in repair & maintenance.

Not surprisingly, all of these decreases were the largest monthly falls on record since the Officer for National Statistics began keeping monthly records in January 2010.

There were decreases experienced in all construction sectors. This is the second month in a row where every sector has seen a month-on-month decline, and only the second time this has happened since monthly records began in January 2010.

New work in private new housing was down 59.2% and private commercial was down 39.7%.

Overall repair & maintenance was down 38.1%, with private housing repair & maintenance (down 54.3%) the biggest contributor to that fall.

Comparing the three-month period February-April with the previous months, construction output in Great Britain fell by a record 18.2% . This was driven by a 19.4% fall in new work and a 15.8% fall in repair & maintenance.

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Clive Docwra, managing director of construction consultant McBains, said: “Today’s figures are further confirmation that the construction sector will face a hugely tough time to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Particular concerns are private new housing work seeing a third consecutive month of large decline, exacerbated by the Covid-19 lockdown on April and now at its lowest level for a decade – bad news for the industry but also for prospective homeowners given the housing shortage. The record fall in private commercial new work also reflects the pause button being pressed on major projects.

“Hopefully today’s figures will represent the nadir given they cover the full month of lockdown, but while many large construction firms are now resuming work, many will still weakened by reduced order pipelines over the next few months.

“Firms are also experiencing labour shortages, supply chains are still operating extremely slowly and cashflow is becoming an increasingly pressing issue as cash reserves dry up.  The government needs to stimulate demand, for example through reducing VAT on repair and maintenance work.”

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