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Northern Ireland's construction firms feeling pinch ahead of Brexit vote

Referendum nerves may be hitting Northern Ireland's builders, with many companies finding that demand is falling in Great Britain and the Republic.

The Construction Employers Federation (CEF) survey today reports that around 20% of building firms here are operating at less than half capacity.

And the survey, carried out with business advisers PwC NI, finds that uncertainty over the EU Referendum later this month could be hitting industry confidence.

The CEF said 80% of members told the survey that they thought the UK should stay in the EU.

And just 16% said they thought a Brexit was necessary - though only 60% of its membership responded to the survey.

Over the first three months of this year, around 20% of companies were in survival mode.

And there was a slight fall from 50% to 48% in the numbers of firms who were confident of growth in the next few months.

Despite a growing trend towards seeking work in the Republic and Great Britain, just 13% of members' work was in those markets during the first quarter of this year, compared to 25% in 2014.

CEF managing director John Armstrong said: "This is another survey which suggests that the construction sector is not sharing in Northern Ireland's modest economic recovery, let alone the significant growth that is being exhibited elsewhere in the UK and Ireland.

"The proportion of companies in survival mode is up, those anticipating growth and profitability are down and the percentage of work in Great Britain and Ireland has fallen."

Belfast Telegraph