UK construction firms report smaller orderbooks

Wednesday 12th June 2019 05:48 EDT

An annual survey of subcontractors has revealed that British construction firms report almost a third less work in the pipeline than a year ago, with Brexit and the collapse of larger contractors a big factor. Survey by trade finance provider Bibby Financial Services showed that subcontractors reported having 19 weeks of work to fall back on, down from 27 weeks a year earlier.

The subdued mood echoes official construction data released on Monday, which showed a sharp slowdown in annual growth to 2.4% in April, while May’s IHS Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dropped to its lowest since March 2018.

“It’s been a tough year for the subcontracting sector, with the industry reeling from the collapse of two large high-profile contractors - and further impacted by the recent announcements regarding British Steel," Bibby’s managing director for construction, Helen Wheeler, said.

Brexit was the most commonly cited threat on the horizon, named by a quarter of firms, but two thirds of the subcontractors said they had not prepared for it. “Brexit, the dominance of large contractors and late payment problems are all acting as brakes on the sector,” Wheeler added.

Many smaller British construction firms have been left out of pocket by the collapse of major contractors Interserve in March and Carillion just over a year earlier.

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