North's construction industry lagging behind UK rivals

Construction workloads in the north are increasing at the weakest rate in the UK
Gareth McKeown

CONSTRUCTION workloads in the north are increasing at the weakest rate in the UK according to a new survey.

The RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Tughans Northern Ireland Construction & Infrastructure Market Survey for the first three months of the year has revealed that workloads were flat for the fourth quarter in a row, with the balance (6 per cent) significantly below the UK average (23 per cent) and other UK regions. Local surveyors also remain the least optimistic in the UK, with the net balance of respondents expecting workloads and employment to increase in the next 12 months the lowest of all UK regions, while the north is the only area, where profit margins are expected to be less next year.

There were some positives though as private industrial workloads saw growth for the first time in two years, while the survey recorded a rise in the number of respondents saying that housebuilding had increased. Growth in the private commercial sector also saw a small rise in the three-month period.

It was a different story though in the public sector, with lower levels of activity recorded.

RICS Northern Ireland construction spokesman, Jim Sammon said an increase in housebuilding was a positive, along with improvement in the private industrial sector, but stressed a lack of a Stormont government was stifling the industry.

“Our respondents are continuing to point to the political situation as an impediment to growing construction workloads and we really need some progress on the political front to improve both confidence levels and investment.”

Michael McCord, head of construction at Tughans Solicitors, added: “It's good news to see a further upturn in house building workloads and in private commercial and private industrial property. It's disappointing to see a fall in infrastructure workloads, but as much of this work is publicly funded it's perhaps not surprising we are in this situation while we have no functioning Executive to push forward key infrastructure projects."

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