Today’s ONS (Office for National Statistics) report is good news! Construction is turning the tables on Covid and beginning the climb back. Held against the massive 40% drop experienced in the Spring an 8% increase seems less impressive, but as Fraser Johns comments below, in any other year an 8% month on month increase would be remarkable, let’s hope August figures show our industry continues to be just as remarkable next month as this.
Finance director at construction contractor Beard, said: “After April’s huge 40% drop in output, it’s encouraging to see May’s figures beginning to point towards a recovery in construction work. It has been one of the sectors worst-affected by Covid-19, and for the construction industry itself and also for the health of the wider economy, it is vital that this recovery continues to gather pace.
“Under normal circumstances, a month-on-month increase of 8% would be something to shout about, but with output still nearly two-fifths lower than in February, it will clearly be a long haul to get back to similar volumes as before the lockdown. Many firms will continue to suffer in the meantime, but the industry is adapting to new working procedures and finding ways to increase efficiency. Times are likely to remain hard for some time to come, but we will get through this.”
Clive Docwra, managing director of construction consultant McBains, said: “Today’s figures reflect just how much of a historic downturn the industry is experiencing. In particular, record decreases of more than 40% in new housing work and almost 30% in commercial work over the three months to May highlight how essential it is that the government does all it can to get construction moving again.
“Although May saw a rebound as construction started to return to work, this is all relative, with output 38.8% lower compared with February before the pandemic hit. It will take several months for the sector to truly recover.”