In a report published by the ONS this week, figures have again demonstrated a decline in construction housebuilding output in the third quarter of 2017. The figures also demonstrate a further-than-expected slide in output, as in August, the estimated fall would be 0.7%, when it actually was closer to 0.9%.
Industry experts are hailing the further fall in housebuilding output as a ‘construction recession’, especially following the 0.5% decline in Q2, although experts also say that on the whole, construction and housebuilding output is still at higher levels than those of a year ago – with figures recording an overall 1.1% increase on last year and 7.1% higher than the recorded figures of Q3 2015.
Experts do agree, however, that performance-by-sector results are encouraging, with output for private housing rising 1.8% to a record high level. This is also encouraged by the announcement last month that an extra £10 billion in funding for the government’s Help to Buy scheme may strengthen and maintain the house building sector, while additional certainty provided by affordable rent-setting plans is set to deliver greater building plans from the housing association market.
A clear area of weakness highlighted by the report is private commercial building, which has experienced falling orders for three consecutive quarters. Public sector projects are coming to an end, and there is no clear plan for additional projects to replace those completed. Hospitals and schools projects have ended, and significantly lower volumes of contracts are being put out to tender.