Home » Construction output data for 2Q2023 shows mixed results

Construction output data for 2Q2023 shows mixed results

Published: 11/08/2023

A mixed picture of construction output in the second quarter of 2023 emerged today with new data from ONS.

Overall construction output in Great Britain in June increased by 1.6% compared to May while, across the second quarter, output was up by 0.3% on the first quarter of the year.

However, output within sectors was varied in the second quarter. Falling output in the private housing and commercial sectors was offset in part by rising demand in infrastructure, but clearly reflects a cautious approach to investment in the current climate.

Sector Percentage change 2Q2023 on
1Q2023 2Q2022
Housing Public 0.3 2.3
Housing Private -3.3 -9.3
Infrastructure 6.1 11.3
Public Other 2.3 5.8
Private Industrial -0.7 5.3
Private Commercial -3.4 0.7

Source: ONS

Dr David Crosthwaite, Chief Economist at BCIS, said: ‘Private housing, which saw a 3.3% decrease in the second quarter, has not fallen as much as we expected, as housebuilders built out sites that were already committed, but this sector is likely to fall more than 15% in 2023 as a whole.

‘With private housing representing over a third of total new work output, any decline in this sector is likely to have a significant effect on output overall. Despite suggestions this week that mortgage lenders could spark a price war by lowering interest rates on fixed-rate deals, with an expectation that the base rate will rise again, we’ll continue to see the effects of reduced starts into 2024.

‘In 2022, private commercial output was down nearly 30% since 2019, and almost 40% since 2007. While we don’t expect any further dramatic decline in this sector, recovery will be slow as the requirements for both office and retail space have changed fundamentally.’

Looking ahead, ONS data on construction new orders showed a decrease in the second quarter of 2023, by 7.1% overall and with infrastructure down 26.5% on the first quarter.

Dr Crosthwaite said: ‘Based on published spending plans and what we know is in the project pipeline, we are forecasting continued growth in infrastructure output, but a lack of clarity in national policy and the ongoing effects of inflation on fixed budgets could put this outlook at risk.

‘All eyes will be on the Government in the autumn to see what investment commitments they make. Further, the spectre of labour shortages looms over all sectors, not least infrastructure, where the Civil Engineering Contractors Association reported in 1Q 2023 that there were continued difficulties with the supply of skilled operatives and staff for civils firms.

‘With construction roles added to the Shortage Occupation List on Monday (7th August), it remains to be seen how successful the scheme will be in attracting workers to the UK. Housing generally has first call on skilled labour, so the dip in demand there is possibly good news for the infrastructure sector as it may take some of the delivery pressures from projects, at least in the short term.’

To keep up to date with the latest industry news and insights from BCIS register for our newsletter here.

Request a demonstration or contact us

BCIS five-year forecasts for building, civil engineering and facilities management are available in its online services.

Contact Us

LinkedIn Follow Button - BCIS