September saw some ups and downs for the industry. While a dip in expansion growth rate has been reported for the sector, we are met with good news as PM Theresa May announced £2bn funding for affordable housing. Read on and get the full lowdown from the UK construction industry.
September sees construction growth slow
The latest IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction PMI suggests that for the second month running, the rate of expansion in the construction industry has slowed. The new figures have shown a dip to 52.1 in September, down from 52.9 in August thus reaching the lowest score for six months.
Commercial and house-building have increased at a solid pace and continue to be the main drivers behind growth, whilst Civil Engineering was the worst performing sub-category, with activity in decline.
The slowing expansion rate has been coupled with a decrease in optimism regarding future affairs in the industry. Construction firms suggested that political uncertainties and investor concerns about Brexit were the main contributors to the lack of confidence. Upcoming energy and transport projects remained positive due to a rise in planned business activity.
£2bn set to boost affordable and social homes
An impressive £2bn has been announced to help housing associations deliver tens of thousands new social and affordable homes across the UK. The long-term funding is set to provide housing associations with the certainty they need to keep pace with demand.
Speaking at the National Housing Federation Summit in London, PM Theresa May declared that fixing the current broken housing system was her personal mission as she demonstrated a keen interest in seeing more people getting on the housing ladder.
Mrs May is keen to see the role that housing association will play in building new homes and challenging current perceptions towards living in social housing.
Construction falls out of top 10 professions for the young
In the space of six years, construction has dropped 5 ranks (from 7th to 12th) on the list of most popular professions for 22 to 29-year-olds. However, whilst popularity decreases, the actual share of employment of young adults increased by 0.5% (from 2.2% to 2.7%). The new data shows that the efforts to improve the industry’s image seem to be paying off, but other industries are doing a better job at attracting young talent.
Dwindling interest from young recruits is reason for concern according to industry experts, as older and more experienced workers retire, and the skill gap increases. The skill crisis has led the industry into relying on EU labour for work which now constitutes a tenth of all construction workers in the UK and a third in London.
With Brexit at the doorstep and the possibility of EU workers deserting a post-Brexit UK, the industry could face new struggles and it is therefore vital to step up efforts to attract young blood.
London considers construction ban on Saturdays
As it stands, contractors can work in London on Saturday mornings from 8am to 1pm. But resident and local business uproar has led to a consideration of the current rules and regulations.
Saturday work has been industry standard across the country and is considered ‘practical’ as fewer people and vehicles on the roads on weekends facilitate the movement of larger vehicles and loads. Negotiations are currently underway, and any outcomes are to be decided this November.