Scottish construction

Housebuilding rise drives Scottish construction activity

A marginal increase in overall construction activity in Scotland was helped by a rise in housebuilding in Q4 2017, according to the latest figures.

The quarterly Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) construction and infrastructure market survey revealed that both public and private sector housebuilding was also higher in the same period.

The balance for public housing (+27%) was the highest across the UK.

Shortages of workers also appeared to be less acute in Scotland than in other regions.

Some 44% of Scottish respondents reported a shortage in quantity surveyors, compared with 66% for the UK as a whole.

Almost two-fifths of respondents (38%) cited a shortage of other construction professionals, compared with 54% for the UK overall.

A net balance of 42% of Scottish respondents believed that they would have a higher workload in 12 months’ time, compared with 48% of UK respondents, with a balance of 11% claiming they would look to employ more workers over the next 12 months, compared with 35% of UK respondents.

The main findings from the survey for Scotland were:

  • a net balance of +7% of respondents said that workloads in this area rose in the quarter
  • the net balance for public housing was +27%, indicating that workloads rose
  • a net balance of +14% of respondents said that private housing workloads rose
  • the net balance for private commercial activity was 6%, suggesting that workloads in this sub-sector rose marginally
  • the net balance for private industrial activity was -7%, indicating that workloads fell
  • the net balance for infrastructure activity was -7%, indicating that workloads in this area fell
  • a net balance 6% of respondents said that workloads regarding public non-housing activity rose.

“Activity in the construction sector in Scotland continues to expand, albeit marginally so, despite uncertainties related to Brexit and recent market events,” said Gail Hunter, regional director for RICS in Scotland.

“It appears that this growth is largely being driven by activity in the housebuilding sector, and while expectations for the year ahead remain relatively positive, the current lacklustre performance in other sub sectors will cause some concern.

“Capacity constraints notwithstanding, the ability of the sector to contribute more sustainably to economic prosperity will depend largely on more coherent policies addressing issues ranging from workforce development to planning.”

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