Survey: Construction activity picked up in Northern Ireland during first quarter

Public housing and infrastructure workloads rose sharply in the first quarter of 2021. Picture by Chris Radburn/PA Wire

ACITIVITY in the north’s construction sector picked up during the first quarter of the year, according to a new industry survey out today.

The RICS and Tughans Construction and Infrastructure Monitor showed workloads in positive territory for the first time in a year, although Northern Ireland continued to lag other UK regions where the recovery appears more pronounced.

There was also a significant disparity between sub-sectors, with public housing and infrastructure workloads rising sharply, in contrast to declines in private commercial and industrial projects.

Labour shortages, material shortages and financial constraints were among the most cited factors by respondents as limiting activity.

Expectations over the next year are subdued, with profitability flagged up as the biggest concern.

Jim Sammon of RICS said while the report of rising workloads was encouraging, he said: “It is concerning that Northern Ireland is lagging other regions, and the issues around skills shortages and material shortages are very real in the market and are impacting significantly on activity.”

Michael McCord at Tughans, added: “The latest survey results chime with some of the other economic information we are getting at the minute in relation to a recovery taking place. “There are clear signs that conditions in the market are improving and indeed it is encouraging to see hiring intentions for the year ahead so strong.

“The construction sector has an extremely important role to play in driving and supporting a recovery and it is extremely important that there continues to be investment in construction and infrastructure activity both to support the recovery and to enhance Northern Ireland’s competitiveness.”

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