Modest growth in activity fuelled by strong increase in commercial construction
Activity in the UK’s construction industry edged up in February, recovering from January’s four-month low according to the February Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) by IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).
The PMI value has remained above the 50.0 no-change mark for a fifth consecutive month, up to 51.4 in February compared to 50.2 the previous month, boosted by the strongest activity in commercial construction since May 2017.
Subdued growth continues in residential construction, although activity did improve from January’s weaker levels, as the cost pressures of higher raw material prices, fuel bills and staff wages weigh on purchasing activity.
New business volumes also declined, but only marginally, with respondents blaming shaken confidence and political uncertainty for the fall.
The author of the PMI, and associate director of IHS Markit Tim Moore, said the industry is in a delicate period, but that it remains resilient: “The construction sector endured another difficult month during February, with fragile business confidence, entrenched political uncertainty and softer housing market conditions all factors keeping growth in the slow lane.
“While subdued house building and infrastructure work acted as a brake on the construction sector, this was partly offset by a sustained turnaround in commercial building.”
Supporting housebuilding remains a priority for Housing Minister Dominic Raab, who announced an £15.8m fund to provide councils with the appropriate resources to increase planning application rates.