North's construction sector bounces back after slow start to 2018

The Northern Ireland construction sector has bounced back at a slow start to the year
Gareth McKeown

THE north's construction sector has bounced back after a slow start to the year, according to new official figures.

The Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin covering the three months to June, published by NISRA, shows that output in the sector is up 6.2 per cent compared to the previous quarter, although it is down 2.5 per cent in comparison to the same period last year.

The spike in construction activity in the second quarter of 2018 was accounted for by a 20.3 per cent increase since the start of the year in repair and maintenance, as well as a 2 per cent jump in new work. There were also strong increases reported within housing (7.1 per cent) and infrastructure work (5.4 per cent) in comparison to the previous quarter. Public spending on new projects was the only area to report a fall.

Robert Gibson, audit and assurance director at Grant Thornton Northern Ireland, said the activity, although 30 per cent below the 2007 peak, highlighted some positivity within the construction sector.

“Following a subdued start to the year, the volume of activity in the local construction sector during the second quarter returned to levels similar to 2017," he said.

“Housing output increased, including a sharp rise in repair and maintenance contracts which increased by more than £20 million in the period, amounting to more than £60m overall."

Mr Gibson noted however that the absence of a Stormont Executive and a lack of public sector investment in large infrastructure projects could soon impact the local figures.

"New public infrastructure work effectively flatlined while in the ‘other work' sector, public spending on new projects was the only sub-component to record a decline."

“This lack of investment may reflect the continued absence of the Stormont Executive and will add to concerns in the industry of a continuing drag on construction output in the future," he added.

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