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Construction catch-up continues

Bricklayer

Month-on-month gains across all sectors led by private housing repairs, maintenance and improvement

OFFICE for National Statistics (ONS) figures published this week show that construction output increased by 2.9% month on month in May. This was the fastest monthly growth rate in two years, reflecting an upswing in activity following adverse weather conditions during the first quarter of 2018.

Compared with a year earlier, output rose 1.6%, but contracted by 1.7% on a rolling three-month basis, although this fall captures the £247 million drop in construction work in March during the so-called Beast from the East.

Rebecca Larkin, senior economist at the Construction Products Association, commented: ‘The construction industry appears to have caught up with some of the work lost in February and March due to the freezing ground conditions and snow disruption.

‘Month-on-month gains were evident across all sectors, but were strongest in private housing repairs, maintenance and improvement (RM&I), the third-largest construction sector, due to warmer weather and longer days.’

She added: ‘Private housing new build was 8.4% higher than a year earlier, which points to strength in activity beyond basic catch-up as the industry enters the busier spring and summer selling season.

‘However, for the year to date, overall construction output remains 0.3% lower than a year earlier, with particular weakness in public non-housing (mainly education and health) and commercial, where a significant fall in new orders signals smaller pipelines of work.’

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