Construction output grew by 5.8% in March 2021 over February, with strong growth in both new work (6.7%) and repair & maintenance (4.4%).
Latest numbers form the Office for National Statistics show that the level of construction output in March 2021 was £14,251m – the highest since September 2019 when it was £14,381m.
March’s output was also 2.4% above the February 2020 pre-pandemic level; repair & maintenance work was 7.7% above this level while new work was 0.5% below.
Anecdotal evidence received from survey returns for March 2021 suggested increased new work, delayed projects returning to sites, a general increase in demand and confidence across the industry, and unusually warm and dry weather were contributing factors to the large monthly increase in construction output.
Quarterly construction output grew by 2.6% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2021 compared with Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2020; this was driven by growth in both new work (2.8%) and repair and maintenance (2.2%).
New orders increased by 12.2% in Q1 2021 compared with Q4 2020 but were 13.3% lower than Q1 2020.
The annual rate of construction output price growth was 1.8% in March 2021.
Fraser Johns, financial director of construction contractor Beard, said: “The construction industry has come through the biggest economic shock since the second world war, with continuing levels of growth getting us back to pre-pandemic levels in March.
“An increase in demand and confidence boosted by the vaccine rollout and a roadmap out the crisis has played its part. Now the challenge is to build on that success by ensuring we attract the talented professionals required to take our industry forward.
“But in the short term we also have a significant challenge to face in terms of materials shortages, which in many areas is verging on a crisis. As an industry we have to find ways to work around and plan ahead with supply chains to mitigate any serious delays, otherwise we’re in real danger of undermining our comeback from ground zero a year ago.”