Uncertainty in the construction industry?

Uncertainty in the construction industry?

Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported on Tuesday that the rate of economic growth halved in the three months to the end of March, marking the slowest quarterly growth for two years. This has obviously worried industry professionals across the board, and no wonder.

The economy grew by 0.3% in the first quarter, which is a stark comparison to the 0.6% in the last three months of 2014 and 0.7% three months earlier. The slowdown, dubbed “temporary” by analysts, over the first three months of this year, was partly attributed to a decline in construction output of 1.6% over the period, taking around 0.1% off the GDP growth rate.

Growth of 0.5% in the services industry was offset by a 1.6% fall in the pace of economic output in construction.

UK GPD Growth Slows

However, the ONS said the economy was 2.4% larger than the same period a year earlier.

Speaking to the BBC, the Chancellor, George Osborne, said: "It's good news that the economy has continued to grow, but we have reached a critical moment.”

Referring to the upcoming election, which has been speculated to be one of the reasons to the slowing down of the economic growth, he added: “Today is a reminder that you can't take the recovery for granted."

It’s not just the, albeit slowly, growing economy that gives cause for optimism: there’s even more encouraging news about. An analysis of the number of construction businesses registered at Companies House shows that after four years of net closures, more were started in 2013 than shut down. The figures, collected by NoPalaver Group, show that there was an overall net gain of 5,445 construction businesses in 2013, compared to a net loss of 7,030 construction firms the previous year. In total, 31% more new construction firms opened in the year to 31st December 2013.

Graham Jenner, Director at NoPalaver, said: “These figures suggest that the construction industry has finally reached a tipping point in its fortunes, with the number of new businesses being created on the up and the number closing their doors going down.

“This is good news for contractors. As the construction industry gains momentum, their specialist skills and breadth of experience are likely to be in increasing demand.”

Whereas the slowdown of our economy and the revival of the construction industry seem bleak, the ONS chief economist Joe Grice warned against “reading too much into one quarter's figures", and reminded that figures represent a first estimate of economic growth and are based on less than half of the total required for the final output estimate. Perhaps it’s not time to despair just yet.

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