Construction outlook brightest since 2007

17 April 2014

Construction firms have reported the brightest outlook for activity in the UK since January 2007, according to a new report on the building industry.

It is among a basket of new data on the construction that reveals growing optimism across all sectors.

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) said its index for March showed a "strong overall performance for the UK construction sector, with sharp rises in activity and employment".

It was the 11th successive month of growth and the survey revealed that UK construction firms remain highly upbeat about prospects for output over the next year.

"The rise in residential construction was one of the sharpest experienced over the past 10 years, helped by strong demand for new development projects and supportive funding conditions," said Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit and author of the report.

"Expectations for construction growth over the year ahead have now reached their highest since the start of 2007, and a strong pipeline of new work is fuelling job creation across the sector."

Private housing was also a key driver in the Glenigan index. The industry data provider said an increase of 29% in project starts helped its index for March rise 15% year-on-year, driven by double-digit growth across the residential, non-residential and civil engineering sectors.

The latest year-on-year statistics for UK construction output from the Office of National Statistics also showed an increase of 5.4% for January 2014, compared with January 2013. This comprised a 5.9% increase in newbuild and 4.5% in repair and maintenance.

Meanwhile Persimmon reports a 25% increase in weekly private sales for the first 15 weeks of this year, resulting in a 35% rise in forward sales revenue to £1.87bn, from £1.38bn last year.

In a statement to the company's AGM last week, chairman Nicholas Wrigley said Persimmon had around 395 active sites across the UK and had opened 75 of the 90 new sites targeted for the first half of 2014.