Construction activity in Northern Ireland remains in decline, report finds

Construction activity in the north remains in decline, with infrastructure particularly feeling the pressure associated with the current political landscape
Ryan McAleer

CONSTRUCTION activity in the north remains in decline, a new industry report states.

The latest construction and infrastructure market survey found that activity for infrastructure and public works during the third quarter at their lowest levels since the start of 2012.

The survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and commercial law firm Tughans, is based on feedback from across the local industry.

It's considered an early indicator for the current health of the construction sector here.

It detected more pessimism within the industry, with more respondents anticipating a slowdown in work over the next year, while expectations for employment were flat.

Private house building remains the only sector in the north showing signs of increasing activity, the report found.

The subsector did slow from the second to the third quarter, however that followed one of the strongest quarters reported by Northern Ireland surveyors in 20 years.

Infrastructure and public works remain the industry's biggest red flags, with more respondents reporting falling levels of activity over the quarter.

RICS said some of the responses from the industry pointed to the current political and economic uncertainty in the north a result of the lack of an Executive, impacting public and infrastructure works in particular. The implications from Brexit on trade and investment also remains a worry.

Jim Sammon, RICS Northern Ireland construction spokesman, said: “Activity continues to be relatively strong regarding private building. However, the ongoing political instability and uncertainty is clearly having an effect elsewhere, particularly regarding infrastructure workloads.

“That said, surveyors are still reporting a shortage of skilled professionals in the industry, which reinforces the need to continue to invest in industry skills such as quantity surveying, as well as the job opportunities that exist for a career in construction.”

Michael McCord from Tughans said: “Private house building aside, this year is shaping up to be something of a year to forget for the construction industry in Northern Ireland.

“Firms in the sector will no doubt be hoping that 2020 marks a turnaround when greater certainty can be achieved in the wider economy, and that the Northern Ireland government can be restored to facilitate key decisions that will support investment.

“In the meantime, many firms continue to very dependent on work outside of Northern Ireland, which is testament to their skill and their ability to compete across the UK and beyond.”

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