Belfast Telegraph

Construction industry records output increase

Output in Northern Ireland's construction industry has shown the first quarterly increase since 2008. However output was still 12.5% lower compared to the third quarter of 2010, a report found.

Figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research agency show that total volume of construction output in Northern Ireland in the third quarter of 2011 increased by 0.8% compared to the second quarter.

This was the first quarterly increase in the total volume of construction output since the second quarter of 2008. The total volume of new work between July and September 2011 decreased by 1.8% compared to the previous three months and was a whopping 19.3% lower compared to the third quarter in 2010.

But the total volume of construction output classified as repair and maintenance in the period increased by 3.6% compared to the previous quarter and was 10.4% higher than the same period in 2010.

Housing output volume dropped by 3.5% between the second and third quarters of 2011. However infrastructure and industrial and commercial outputs reported quarter on quarter volume increases of 19.5% and 1.5% respectively.

Output from the Northern Ireland production sector rose by 5.2% from the second to the third quarter of 2011, compared to a UK-wide increase of 0.1% over the same period. And in the services sector, output levels rose by 1.9% over the quarter, compared to a 0.7% increase in the UK.

Belfast law firm McGrigors said that the figures have provided good news, but said that more needs to be done to aid recovery in the construction industry.

Laurence Spencer, who heads the Belfast restructuring practice at McGrigors said that while sole traders and small companies reliant on residential work are under extreme pressure, some medium-sized and larger busi- nesses are "through the worst".

"A lot of internal restructuring work is therefore going on. That said, many in the construction sector were disappointed the Assembly's plans for growth did not contain anything on capital spend through major projects

Enterprise minister Arlene Foster said that despite the continued uncertainty in the Eurozone and the fears of a further economic slowdown, there are still opportunities for Northern Ireland businesses to grow.

"In order to rebalance our economy, it is imperative more of our businesses take advantage of export markets and exploit the opportunities that exist there."