Try as you might to think otherwise, even though the weather is becoming more variable, the figures for the UK construction sector continue to give cause for optimism.
The only fly in the ointment would be ones that the various authoritative surveys and reports have already alluded to – materials and skills shortages, along with a likely pressure on wages and costs.
This has been mentioned in the publication of this week’s Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index which remained well above the neutral 50.0 threshold and signalled the fastest overall increase in output levels since January.
As mentioned above, sub-contractors seem to be valuing their worth with steepest rise in rates charged by them since the survey began in April 1997.
The last thing one wants to do is throw a wet blanket over this bullish state of affairs but we have been here before and if a patient who has been in need of medical treatment, tries to compete with Usain Bolt too soon, he is likely to be a not needing a doctor but a mortician.
One of the authors of the report makes this situation very clear. Tim Moore, Senior Economist, Markit and author of the Markit/CIPS Construction PMI, has said of the current boom: “However, acute skill shortages meant that sub-contractor charges rose at the fastest pace since the survey began in 1997. Meanwhile, sub-contractor availability fell at a survey record pace, which could act to further ignite pay pressures in the short term.”
There is another concern when it comes to the UK and that is its inability to have a balanced approach to managing the demand and supply of residential and commercial properties. We are now approaching a General Election in 2015 and one has doubts that any of the major political parties have a clue how to address the nation’s needs.
I would like to include UKIP in this important debate as a ‘major political party’ but when you look at the website, there is nothing about the construction sector. Its only mention of housing that could be seen was where it stated: ‘Prioritise social housing for people whose parents and grandparents were born locally.’ Well, we have some months to run yet and maybe Nigel will have a mull over his pint and ciggie and pull a rabbit out of the hat on the topic.
Caption Can Nigel Farage and UKIP join the debate and find an answer to our problems with the housing sector?