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Construction output grew by 8.2% in May compared to April, as it recovered slightly from a huge drop caused by the coronavirus lockdown.
That’s according to the latest official figures from the
Office for National Statistics, which calculated that the value of all work in
the sector in May was £8.25bn.
The increase came after a severe decline in output in April,
which saw many businesses shut down operations in the face of the covid-19
pandemic. Output in April dropped by 40.2% compared to March and was 44.3% down
on a year ago.
Despite the fact that output improved in May month on month,
it was still 39.7% lower than the same month last year, according to the ONS
Seasonally adjusted growth rates revealed that while public
housing output was 42.1% up in May 2020 compared to April 2020, and private
housing had risen by 21.4%, they were still down 55.6% and 55.4% respectively
year on year in May 2020.
Infrastructure was 12.7% up in May compared to April, but 14.4% down year on year. Private commercial work staged a small recovery month on month in May compared to April, win an increase of 4.2% but the year-on-year decline in May was still 38.2%. And while the repair and maintenance sector improved output by 2.7% in May 2020 compared to April 2020, it was 42% down year on year in May.
Fraser Johns, finance director at Beard: “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.”
|Period on period growths
|Period on same period one year ago growths
Above: Construction output all work summary (chained volume measure, seasonally adjusted, 2016 prices) Source: Office for National Statistics
Clive Docwra, managing director of construction consulting
and design agency McBains, added: “After
two successive months of record falls in output, the construction sector was
bracing itself for more bad news – and 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.”