UK building industry has its best month in almost two years

Has Christmas come early for Britain’s builders? The FT reports on some positive signs for the industry.


Britain’s long-suffering building industry has had its best month in almost two years, thanks to new housing and infrastructure projects.


The official data are the latest sign the UK economy is healing, five years after the financial crisis. Output in construction, one of the worst hit sectors after the crash, rose 2.2 per cent between September and October, and was 5.3 per cent higher than the same time a year ago. That took monthly output to its highest since December 2011.


However, building output is still about 10 per cent lower than it was at its peak.


“The UK construction industry is enjoying a strong and increasingly broad-based recovery . . . meaning the sector should help boost the economy in the fourth quarter,” said Chris Williamson, an economist at Markit, a data company.


The Office for National Statistics said the new housing and infrastructure sectors grew 5.8 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively between September and October.


As UK house prices have begun to rise, building has started to increase after years in the doldrums.

New orders were 17.8 per cent higher than a year ago, driven by a 41.6 per cent increase in new housing and a 21.3 per cent increase in private commercial work. Public new work fell slightly.


The ONS also said that, all else being equal, revisions to earlier building data would produce a 0.1 per cent increase in gross domestic product in the first and third quarters of the year, when the UK notched up growth of 0.4 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively.


Construction accounts for about 6 per cent of the UK’s GDP.


A Treasury spokesman said: “This is further evidence that Britain’s economic plan is working, with new housing orders growing at the fastest rate in six years.”


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