Belfast Telegraph

Green initiatives urged to help building sector

By David Elliott

Construction companies in Northern Ireland aren't seeing any let up in the savage business conditions which have hampered trade in the sector over the last few years.

A survey by the Federation of Master Builders, which claims to be the UK's largest construction trade association, found that 52% of builders here saw their workload decline in the third quarter of the year. The same percentage also expected their workload to ease further in the current quarter.

The latest report shows a deterioration on the second quarter when only 42% of builders saw workloads decline.

Maire Nawaz, Director of FMB Northern Ireland, said the construction sector here remains in "deep trouble".

And she called on the Northern Ireland Executive to make sure that public sector building contracts aren't out of reach of small companies which make up a large proportion of the construction industry here.

"Streamlining public procurement will help reap bigger rewards for the Northern Irish economy," she said. "However, further action is required to arrest the decline in the Northern Irish construction sector in the immediate term. The Northern Ireland Executive must increase investment in improving the energy performance of existing homes. This means going beyond the boiler scrappage scheme. Without a clear policy signal from government, firms will be reluctant to commit to developing the skills needed to support the transformation of Northern Ireland's existing housing stock to cut carbon and reduce fuel poverty."