The latest construction output figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) paints a picture of a mixed month for the industry.
According to the release, the three-month on three-month series of output has continued its decline, with a fall of 1% recorded in the three months to January – the ninth consecutive period of decline.
Ole Black, the ONS Senior Statistician, explained the latest decrease: “Construction continues to be a weak spot in the UK economy with a big drop in commercial developments, along with a slowdown in house building after its very strong end to last year.”
The month-on-month series of construction output figures also fell in January. After a positive couple of months that have seen output increase in both months – including by 1.6% in the last month of 2017 – a fall of 3.4% was recorded in January 2018.
It should be said that the monthly figures can be volatile but the 3.4% decrease is the largest since June 2012.
The main reason for this is the fall in all new work in January 2018. The turnaround has been quite stark too; in December, output in all new work hit a record high, but January saw a fall of 4.8%.
Repair and maintenance fell by 0.7% compared to December, but the fact all new work accounts for around two thirds of all construction work illustrates just why the overall monthly construction output figures have fallen the way that they have.
For the three-month on three-month series, the bright spots were limited to private housing and infrastructure, which made the only notable positive contributions to growth.
In the three months to January, private housing expanded by £251 million and for infrastructure the figure increased by £130 million.
Despite the falls in the three-month and monthly series, new orders in 2017 rose by 4.3% which, at £55,130 million, is at its highest total since just before the recession in 2008.