According to the Federation of Master Builders, the workload levels of its members are continuing to fall.
While construction workloads for small building companies have continued to decline for the tenth consecutive quarter, the Federation’s latest State of Trade Survey indicates that there are signs that this maybe nearing its end with a leveling off in the rate of decline for both residential and non residential work.
Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the FMB said: “Despite the fact that the Quarter Two results from our survey still show two and a half years of declining workloads, underneath the headline results we are seeing grounds for some optimism in that workloads and employment are at least beginning to stabilize around their current albeit much reduced levels.”
Unchanged workload levels were reported by 46% of FMB companies undertaking private new housing work; 60% of undertaking social new housing; and 52% carrying out social repair, maintenance and improvement (RM&I) work reported no change to their workloads.
Just over half (53%) of respondents reported no change to staffing levels and 60% of companies said they were expecting workload levels to remain unchanged in each of eight sectors for the coming quarter.
“The recovery in the wider construction sector is still very fragile, and the signs of stabilization in the SME sector are not the same as actual growth,” Berry continued: “Even without further decline we have some very serious problems. For example, private new housing workloads have been declining every quarter since quarter three of 2007 and new social housing has only seen workload growth in two quarters since 1999.
There needs to be significant growth, and not just in housing but in the construction sector as a whole if we are to have a sustained recovery. Looking ahead we have yet to see the details of the Government’s autumn spending review and the impact of the increase in the rate of VAT to 20% next year might jeopardize the recovery, resulting in thousands of jobs losses and push the building industry back into recession.”