Construction output declined for a third consecutive quarter

Office of National Statistics figures published on Friday, February 9, show that construction output fell by 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2017. This was revised up from the preliminary estimate of -1.0% published last month, but marked the third straight quarter of decline.

Rebecca Larkin, senior economist at the Construction Products Association, commented: “Overall growth in construction activity slowed significantly over the course of 2017, with output falling since Q2 and rising only 0.9% in annual terms in Q4. The quarter saw continued growth in private housing driven by five years of the Help to Buy equity loan, and early work on major projects such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel driving a 0.7% rise in infrastructure. However, even with the government’s £7.4 billion equity loan expenditure so far and a further £10 billion set aside, house-building activity could not offset the broad downturn in repair and maintenance, commercial and industrial.

“Underscoring the supportive effects of the government’s Help to Buy policy, private housing output is now 28.8% higher than its pre-recession peak. By contrast, commercial output is 26.4% below its historic high, whilst industrial output is 28.5% lower.”