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It's grim up north, RICS survey shows

4 Aug 11 Latest quarterly survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors shows a rise in private sector work, particularly in the southeast, is compensating the public sector decline.

Overall the Q2 2011 RICS Construction Market Survey shows that total workloads remained broadly flat in the second quarter.

The regional divergence that emerged at the end of 2010 has become more pronounced, with London and the southeast recording rising workloads while other parts of the country either declined or remained flat. Workload is falling in Northern Ireland, Wales and the North (Northeast, Northwest and Yorkshire & Humberside).

The headline net balance for total construction workloads edged down in Q2, from +6 to +2. With more than half of all respondents reporting no change in workloads, the main issues for surveyors are a highly competitive tendering environment and a continued lack of funding for projects.

Government budget cuts continue to have an adverse effect, with workloads in Public Housing and Other Public Works deteriorating, with net balances of -17 and -24 respectively. In contrast, Private Housing and Private Commercial workloads continued to rise, with net balances of +3 and +16 respectively. This is the first time since 2007 that Private Housing has been positive for two consecutive quarters.

Workload and employment expectations for the coming 12 months remain positive. The net balance for the former slipped back from +18 to +10 and for the latter it edged up from +5 to +6. Profit expectations continue to deteriorate, with the net balance falling from -30 to -34, reflecting the continuing pressure on margins as input costs rise more rapidly than output prices.

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