Against a backdrop of economic problems in the Euro zone, indicators for the UK economy continue to be concerning. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show construction output for Q3 to have fallen 1% compared to a year ago, but the rate of fall has slowed when compared with Q2 (just 0.2% down). Within these figures, new work performed worse and non-housing Repair & Maintenance better than the average.
The latest RICS Housing Market Survey reported that prices have continued to fall everywhere except London. However, the number of transactions increased with positive expectations.
Against this background Bovis, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon reported positive trading results.
RIBA’s Future Trends Survey also shows fragile confidence amongst architects for the next quarter. Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice, said “Overall demand for architects’ services continues to be very weak in some sectors, anecdotal evidence from the survey suggests that niche markets such as high-end bespoke housing, conservation works and certain healthcare sectors remain resilient.”
An initiative announced by the Government to try and stimulate the economy, via construction activity is the Growing Places Fund, with £500 million available for a range of projects that can help facilitate economic growth, jobs and housebuilding in the local area.
The poor state of the economy means that the industry has been making representations to the Chancellor in the hope that he will announce measures to revive the economy via investment in construction when he makes his Autumn Statement. Announcing plans for two new power stations, creating 1150 jobs, Mr Cameron has suggested that there will be such initiatives to aid the recovery.