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New ONS figures paint rosy picture for construction industry

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The construction industry has experienced its best period of growth in a decade, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONC)

After years in the doldrums the ONS said the sector had shown ‘steady growth’ in the last two quarters of 2013 with output up by 1.7 percent in Q3 and 1.9 per cent in Q2.

The Q3 figures of 1.7 per cent growth are the highest Q3 growth since 2003.

Over the 12 months from September 2012 construction output rose by 5.8 per cent and over the same period new housing showed growth of a whopping 13.6 percent.

When compared with Q3 2012 this year’s Q3 represents a construction output increase of 4.1 per cent, a boost that the ONS said was ‘predominantly due to a 6.2 per cent increase in new work’.

The report went on to say that within that new work category, private new housing increased by 15.6 per cent and private commercial other new work was up by 12.5 percent.

The one negative was a fall in infrastructure output by 3.7 per cent. Nonetheless together the infrastructure, housing and commercial sectors accounted for around 75 per cent of all new work, with a combined volume of £13 million of the estimated £17.4 million output of new work in Q3.

I’ll be another year before the strong growth seen in the South East can hope to reach everywhere

Steve McGuckin, UK managing director of the project management consultancy Turner & Townsend welcomed the figures but warned London and the South East were largely behind the uplift: ‘It is likely to be another twelve months before the strong growth seen in the South East can hope to reach everywhere.

‘The imbalance of supply and demand is a nagging cause for concern, but is an inflationary threat rather a genuine risk to the recovery. With growth now almost a given, the tough question for contractors is have they got the capacity to keep up with demand?”

Glenigan economist Tom Crane said his company’s data backed up the ONS report: ‘…the value of projects receiving detailed planning approval during the three months to October was 30 per cent higher than the same three months a year ago.

‘A steady increase of approvals through 2013 means a strong pipeline of work is now in place for continued growth over the final months of the year and through 2014.

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