Belfast Telegraph

Mixed picture for Northern Ireland's ‘challenging’ construction industry

By John Mulgrew

The construction sector in Northern Ireland remains an “incredibly challenging environment” after fresh figures showed the industry shrank by 1.9% in the third quarter of 2016.

The figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) indicate that while there was a tumble in that period compared to the previous quarter, year-on-year the industry’s output was up by 8.8%.

John Armstrong, managing director of the Construction Employers Federation, said: “The latest Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin reflects the incredibly challenging environment facing many local contractors and housebuilders.

“As we know from monthly data, there are significant sustainability challenges in the short to medium term that are tied to low margins, insufficient pipelines of work, skills shortages and the potential impact of the Apprenticeship Levy.

“A vibrant construction industry is absolutely vital to economic growth and, with Northern Ireland now facing an Assembly election, many of the challenges and risks that confront us will only be exacerbated, especially from a budgetary point of view.”

According to the figures, a decrease in the output in quarter three was fuelled by a 5.6% decrease in ‘new work’, offset by a 9.2% boost in ‘repair’ work.

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