The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures published today show that construction output decreased 2.7% in the first quarter of 2018. The fall was broad-based but was led by an 8.8% decline in public house building activity and a 5.9% reduction in public non-housing work. Private housing output recorded a fall of 1.6% over the quarter. Compared to a year earlier, total output was 4.9% lower during Q1.
The ONS Head of National Accounts, Rob Kent-Smith, said: “Today’s figures support previous estimates showing the economy was very sluggish in the first quarter with little impact overall from the bad weather. The whole construction sector performed poorly in the first quarter with housing, repair work and public works seeing particularly large falls.”
Rebecca Larkin, Senior Economist at the Construction Products Association, commented: “This release confirms what was reported in preliminary GDP data: construction had a poor opener to 2018. The 2.7% contraction in output was revised up from the initial estimate of a 3.3% decline, but this still represents the weakest outturn since August 2012 and a £1.04 billion loss in output in three months.
“Output declined in each month of the quarter, undoubtedly capturing the pauses in work relating to Carillion’s liquidation in January and the snow disruption in February and March. Notably, private housing lost its position as the industry’s star performer, with output falling from a record high, but activity is expected to accelerate as we enter the Spring selling season.”