UK Construction output rockets back to growth – “less a rebound than a Damascene conversion” – reaction from Naismiths surveyors

Blane Perrotton, managing director of the national property consultancy and surveyors Naismiths, commented:

“This is less a rebound than a Damascene conversion.

“Construction output in the second quarter didn’t just creep back into positive territory – it rocketed back.

“True, this rapid swing underlines the construction industry’s perennial reputation for volatility. But it also confirms that the woeful first quarter – which saw output shrink by 0.8% – was a weather-related blip rather than the start of a sustained slowdown.

“On the frontline we’re seeing brisk levels of activity and optimism, especially in the buoyant regional markets of the North West, West Midlands and Bristol.

“Last week’s PMI data suggested sentiment is firmly on the mend, and today’s official output numbers give cause for further hope.

“But the picture is far from universally rosy. While infrastructure construction has found its feet again, and housebuilding – long the poster child for the industry as a whole – remains strong, public sector work is slowing badly.

“And while construction’s return to form played an important part in lifting Britain’s second quarter GDP figures, any celebrations would be premature.

“With even Cabinet ministers now suggesting that a no-deal Brexit is looking increasingly likely, the confidence-sapping prospect of a Brexit cliff edge will continue to be a brake on the industry as developers defer investment until there is greater clarity on what a non-EU UK will look like.”