(PRWEB UK) 2 May 2013
The Glenigan Index, the UK's leading barometer of construction starts, has shown another monthly drop in new building projects. For the last three months (Feb, March, April) figures fell by 7% compared to 2012, project starts have now fallen every month this year.
However, the Index also showed a marked improvement in a number of sectors including civil engineering, infrastructure, utilities and education.
While the overall index declined in April, there was a marked improvement in project starts for some sectors. Gains in infrastructure starts were driven by road and rail projects in London and the South East, and renewable energy projects pushed up starts in the utilities sector, with wind farms in Scotland and Wales providing the largest boost.
The gains seen in some sectors this month are encouraging signs, especially in light of the poor project starts during the first quarter and official data showing industry output fell 6% compared to the first quarter of last year. However, it was still another disappointing month overall, commented Glenigan Economist Andrew Whiffin.
Housing starts were weak once again this month, although the pace of decline in the private housing sector did slow, starts were 7% down on a year ago.
The housing slowdown is likely in reaction to recent lending data that shows levels of mortgage approvals in the first quarter of the year are failing to surpass levels seen in 2012, despite new government support for home buyers, added Whiffin.
The industrial sector witnessed a dire performance in the first quarter of the year; underlying starts were 42% lower than the first quarter of 2012. April has however seen a turnaround in the sectors fortunes with underlying starts 6% up on the three months to April last year. The start of a factory project related to production of wind turbine components helped boost starts for the sector in the North East.
Although there was a marked improvement during April, many parts of the UK are still seeing steep declines in the value of underlying project starts. Northern Ireland and Wales saw the steepest declines in underlying starts, both down by 30% in the three months to April. In Northern Ireland private housing starts have all but disappeared and weakness from publicly financed sectors also pushed starts lower. Wales performed very well last year and the decline in starts indicates this performance will not be repeated during 2013.