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Economic Growth Hopes Dealt a Blow as Construction Firms Fail to Commit to New Major Projects

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The UK’s economic growth for the final quarter this year has been dealt another blow after Britain’s construction industry took a hit in October as firms failed to commit to major new projects.

The Office for National Statistics said construction output fell 0.6 per cent month on month, compared with economist estimates of a 0.3 percent rise.

The figures come after a disappointing month for UK industry, where activity fell at its worst rate since 2012 in October, driven by a sharp contraction in mining and quarrying.

Today’s stats were dragged lower by a drop in infrastructure work and a slowdown in repair and maintenance activity, while there was a drop off in new orders for public projects such as schools and hospitals.

ONS senior statistician Kate Davies said:

‘October saw the biggest jump in private house building for almost a year though less work on commercial buildings and infrastructure projects saw overall construction output down on the month. ‘Meanwhile, new construction orders fell in the third quarter, thanks mainly to a large fall in orders for public projects such as schools and hospitals.’

New orders during the period from July to September dropped 2.4 percent quarter on quarter, as public and other new work orders plunged 24.8 per cent, and infrastructure rose 22.4 per cent.
But Davies cautioned that both the monthly and quarterly figures ‘can be quite volatile’ and warned against ‘reading too much into one set of figures’.

In October, the ONS tracked a decrease in all types of work except for private housing and non-housing repair and maintenance, which rose 2.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.

While the biggest drag on the monthly figures came from infrastructure, the sector should see a jump in activity if Government plans bear fruit.

In his Autumn Statement last month, Chancellor Philip Hammond earmarked £2.3billion for a new housing infrastructure fund that will support the construction of up to 100,000 homes.

He also pledged another £1.4billion for 40,000 new affordable homes, and £1.3billion for improving and upgrading Britain’s roads.

This is Money – Mark Shapland

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