Civils contractors have warned that declining workloads in the highways and preliminary works sectors could spell trouble for the UK’s economy.
Results from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)’s Workload Trends Survey found that while the sector experienced a tenth quarter of growth in 2023 Q1, nonetheless falling workloads in the roads sector and in preliminary works for housing – traditional bellwethers for civil engineering activity – that should concern policymakers.
In addition, cost pressures remain elevated for civils firms, with 81 per cent of companies reporting increases of over 5 per cent, while the supply of skilled operatives remains one of the key supply issues facing contractors across England, Scotland and Wales.
Commenting, CECA Chief Executive Alasdair Reisner said: “These statistics show that while the UK’s infrastructure sector continues to act as the backbone of UK plc in delivering much-needed economic growth, there could be trouble ahead at a time when we need the industry to be firing on all cylinders.
“Infrastructure underpins every aspect of our lives and is a major employer in all parts of the country, which is why we are highlighting that these sectors are struggling due to challenges they are facing, not least rising inflation, supply chain disruption, and a loss of business confidence.
“If the UK Government wishes to see progress in meeting its housing ambitions and to deliver the connectivity businesses and communities need to thrive, it must work with industry to understand why bottlenecks are appearing in these sectors, and work to bring projects forward to market without delay.”