Housebuilders upbeat despite construction blues

Construction output slipped for the second month in a row in February, in a further sign that firms may be battening down the hatches ahead of the EU in-out vote, but housebuilders remain bullish.

Housebuilders remain optimistic after latest ONS data
Housebuilders remain optimistic after latest ONS data

The Office for National Statistics said construction, which accounts for about 6 per cent of the UK economy, fell 0.3 per cent month-on-month in February but resumed growth on an annual basis, edging up 0.3 per cent.

For the three months to February as a whole, output rose 1.5 per cent compared with the previous three months, its fastest growth rate since March 2015.

The ONS said activity was underpinned by a record volume of housebuilding, which increased by some 6.7 per cent in the three-month period – its fastest growth rate in almost two years – aided by Help to Buy schemes.

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building & Renewals, said he remained cautiously optimistic for the industry’s prospects.

“While disappointing, these ONS statistics don’t fully illustrate the optimism felt by those on the ground, nor do they reflect the resoluteness of the Scottish construction industry.

“Housebuilding remains a key driver for Scottish economic growth and will continue to do so.”