Construction industry fuelling economic recovery, says FMB

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that monthly construction output grew by 5.8% in March 2021 compared to February 2021, the largest monthly growth since July 2020, when output grew by 17.8%.

The March growth was because of growth in both new work (6.7%) and repair and maintenance (4.4%).

Construction output in March 2021 was 2.4% (£334 million) above the February 2020 pre-pandemic level, while repair and maintenance work was 7.7% (£377 million) above this level, with new work at 0.5% (£44 million) below.

Quarterly construction output grew by 2.6% in Q1 2021 compared with Q4 2020, driven by growth in both new work (2.8%) and repair and maintenance (2.2%).

Meanwhile, new orders increased by 12.2% (£1,227 million) in Q1 2021 compared with Q4 2020. This follows a fall of 7.8% (£848 million) in Q4 2020 but was 13.3% lower than Q1 2020.

The annual rate of construction output price growth was 1.8% in March 2021.

Commenting on the figures, Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “Growth in construction output, especially in the repair, maintenance and improvement sector at 4.4%, is good news for small builders and should indicate to the government that, with the correct support, builders can help drive the UK’s wider economic recovery.

“To maintain this momentum, the government needs to build on this success and support Britain’s builders in building back better with a commitment to a long-term retrofit strategy to make our existing homes greener and more energy efficient.”

He concluded: “The government should also use its Skills Bill to ensure the right training is available to fill persistent shortages in the traditional trades, such as bricklaying and plastering, as well as new skills to address net zero. And without compromising quality, the Planning Bill offers the valuable opportunity to reverse the decline of small house builders if we are to deliver the new homes the country needs.”