CIOB responds to construction output figures
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has responded to today’s construction output figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
In January 2021, construction output grew by 0.9 per cent, a welcome growth from December where output fell by 2.9 per cent for the first time in seven months. Despite the gradual growth during 2020 and 2021, construction remains 2.6 per cent below pre-coronavirus levels when comparing January 2021 to February 2020.
The monthly growth in construction output was driven by new work (1.7 per cent), primarily new work in private commercial and infrastructure which grew by 4.5 per cent and 3.1 per cent, respectfully. This rise in new work helped offset the monthly decline of 0.4 per cent in repair and maintenance, its third consecutive monthly fall. However, despite this, repair and maintenance continues to be 4.5 per cent above pre-coronavirus levels.
While infrastructure and private commercial work have contributed to new work for the sector, it is worrying to see a continued decline in repair and maintenance activity, given that this type of work constitutes a key part of the Government's intention to use investment in the built environment to stimulate economic recovery and will be essential to decarbonising our built environment. Construction has seen some growth in January 2021, but Government must ensure that plans are being put in place to promote growth in sectors, such as repair and maintenance, in order to aid in a quick recovery.
Data shows that construction companies are still reliant on coronavirus support schemes to support the retention of workers and help keep sites open. At the end of January, 244,100 construction workers remained furloughed, and 747,000 construction professionals had claimed from the self-employment income scheme (SEISS). The Government made an announcement in the Spring 2021 Budget that they will extend these support schemes until September 2021. CIOB welcomes the continuation of support and as we move towards the UK’s four step plan out of lockdown. It anticipates the sector will continue to grow, but without the right support from Government recovery could be slow.