The latest quarterly workload trends Survey from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) found order books in decline.
The net balance score of the percentage of firms in Great Britain reporting a fall in orders in the first quarter of 2017, minus the percentage reporting an increase, was 9. Previously, more firms have seen orders rising than declining. In the fourth quarter of 2016 a balance of 19% reported a rise in new orders.
Scotland appears to be particularly badly hit, where 65% of CECA member firms reported that orders had decreased and only 29% reported that orders had increased. This 37% negative balance for Q1 2017 in Scotland contrasts with a 17% balance in England reporting an increase in new orders.
Overall workloads across Great Britain increased for a 15th consecutive quarter, with 41% of respondents saying that workloads had risen and 33% saying that workloads had fallen – a positive balance of 8%, down from 11% in the previous quarter.
CECA director of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming said the survey results were “extremely concerning”. She said: “They show that not only is the rate of growth in infrastructure workloads currently sluggish, but that order books have moved into the red, indicating that the sector is at real risk of stagnation.
“Unless action is taken, our sector runs the risk of falling into a recession at exactly the time that we need it to be driving growth in the economy. As the country prepares to go to the polls next month, we call on all parties to commit to the projects outlined in the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan, and ensure steps are taken to boost investment in all regions of England, Scotland and Wales. Failure to act could undermine the sector’s ability to deliver. This will imperil the British economy at the very time we need this key driver of economic growth to secure the future of the UK.”