Confidence is building for Scottish construction

Infrastructure work - including the new Forth Replacement Crossing - has seen strong growth. Picture: Contributed
Infrastructure work - including the new Forth Replacement Crossing - has seen strong growth. Picture: Contributed
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CONFIDENCE in the construction industry has reached its highest level since the economic crash of 2008, a new survey has revealed.

For the first time, the Scottish Construction Monitor found more than half of firms were more confident about their future for the coming year.

A total of 51.6 per cent of the companies questioned in the first three months of this year said they were more confident about their prospects for this next 12 months compared with the previous year – a rise of more than ten points from the previous quarter when it was 41.1 per cent.

At the same time, the number of firms which are less confident about their future prospects fell from 25 per cent in the last three months of 2013 to 17.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

Some 600 construction firms from Orkney to the Borders were questioned for the survey.

The latest research put the overall level of confidence in the industry at +20 points, the third quarter of positive confidence levels in a row.

The report said: “Following a nine-point decline in industry confidence last quarter, confidence has rebounded by 11 points to stand at its highest rating since the Construction Monitor began in 2008.”

Scottish Building Federation managing director Vaughan Hart welcomed the results, but stressed it was important to keep things “in perspective” as the recovery in different parts of the industry “remains mixed”.

He said: “This is now the third consecutive quarter that the industry’s confidence has been in positive territory and a new record high since we began the Scottish Construction Monitor in 2008.

“This is the first time that the percentage of companies more confident about the future outlook for their business compared to the last year has risen above the 50 per cent mark.

“At the same time, it is important to keep these results in perspective. Recovery across the different sectors of the industry remains mixed.

“While there has been strong growth in infrastructure and private commercial activity, housebuilding remains flat. The challenge now must be to ensure the recovery is sustainable in the longer term. Industry confidence needs to reach a point where companies have the confidence to invest long term in rebuilding skills and capacity. I am not convinced we have reached that point yet.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The construction industry underpins all of Scotland’s key sectors and therefore underpins the success of our whole economy, and right from the start of the economic downturn, the Scottish Government prioritised capital investment as a way of supporting recovery.

“Today’s survey follows on from recent GDP and labour market statistics which show the Scottish economy grew faster than the UK over the year, with employment levels now at a five-year high and the economy growing continuously over the past four quarters.

“Business growth and investment will be key to securing economic expansion over the coming year and we will secure investment of more than £4 billion in capital projects in each of the next two years – building homes, schools and facilities to support the economy. The Scottish Government will continue to do all we can to support our businesses but we could do even more with the full fiscal and economic powers of independence to strengthen our economy and create jobs.”