Industry sees rise in new construction orders

Construction output in January rose 1.8% compared with December while new orders for the final quarter of 2013 rose 1.5% compared to the third quarter, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics.
Dr Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association said: “The construction industry continued to see a recovery in activity. Output in January was 5.4% higher than snow-affected January 2013. New orders are an early indicator of future output, so the 1.5% rise during the final quarter of 2013 suggests that the growth in activity is also likely to continue over the next 12-18 months.

“Private housing was the key driver of construction growth in January with sector output 23.3% higher than a year earlier. New orders for private housing in Q4 rose 7.2% compared with Q3 and indicate growth for the sector in 2014 and 2015. The Association forecasts that private housing starts will rise 16% this year and a further 10% in 2015.

“Output in public non-housing, which primarily covers schools and hospitals work, has suffered greatly in recent years but looks set for a recovery. Output in the sector fell 34% between 2010 and 2013. In January, however, output was 2.2% higher than a year earlier and new orders in Q4 were 16.8% higher than in Q3, pointing towards sector growth this year.”

Dr Francis warned, however: “Despite many government announcements of finance for large infrastructure projects over the last two years, output in the infrastructure sector fell by 2.3% in January compared with December and was 3.2% lower than a year earlier. Of greater concern, infrastructure new orders in Q4 were 22.2% lower than in Q3. Therefore, it is vital that the government focuses on delivery of existing projects in the pipeline rather than further announcements.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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