Survey: NI construction sector continuing to feel the impact of Covid-19 crisis

Construction workloads continued to fall in the final three months of 2020, albeit at a less pronounced rate, a new survey suggests.
Ryan McAleer

THE north’s construction sector continued to feel the pressure of Covid-19 in the final three months of 2020 with workloads and business enquires falling again, according to a new report.

A survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Tughans said the workload balance the Northern Ireland construction sector was down again in the final quarter of last year, albeit at a less pronounced rate that the second and third quarters of 2020.

The infrastructure monitor for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020 said the response from construction professionals to its latest survey found signs of improvement.

But, continuing the trend from Q3, it still placed Northern Ireland as by far the worst performing region of the UK terms of workloads for Q4.

It noted a growing weakness in private commercial and private industrial workloads, largely the result of the impact of the pandemic on the office and retail sectors.

The survey showed more positive responses in respect of public and private house building, with a modest increase in infrastructure workloads.

RICS construction spokesman, Jim Sammon, said: “Again in Q4, like in the previous quarter, we see an easing in the rate of decline in construction workloads.

“However, it was still another challenging one for the sector. Respondents are highlighting a range of challenges and concerns around material availability and cost increases. General uncertainty in the economy linked to Covid and post Brexit is also as a potential deterrent to workload growth.”

Michael McCord from commercial law firm Tughans, said the survey reflected more optimism when professionals were asked about the next 12 months.

“Indeed, the construction industry no doubt has an extremely important role to play in helping drive a sustainable economic recovery in Northern Ireland and investing in the right areas can help play a central role in creating employment, driving spending in the economy, and ultimately improving Northern Ireland’s competitiveness for the long-term,” he added.

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