Belfast Telegraph

Rallying construction industry still facing a tough year

By David Elliot

The Northern Ireland construction sector can take solace in the fact that the industry's rate of decline slowed slightly in the first three months of the year, although it still remains the worst performing region in the UK.

The latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Construction Market Survey, revealed today, showed chartered surveyors here are still having to contend with a decline in construction work, measured as -43, but are at least managing to stem the flow.

In the last quarter of 2011 there was a balance of -53 surveyors reporting a fall in workloads. Still, the decline in the sector is the worst in the UK with the next worst performing regions, Scotland and London and the South East, managing to notch up -3 and +19 respectively. The average for the UK as a whole was +8.

And it seems that there is little to look forward to.

The survey revealed that expectations for the months ahead remain negative with most surveyors currently expecting a fall in workloads, employment and, worryingly, profits.

"The challenges remain the same; a lack of private finance, delays in processing planning applications and the fact that public spending is under significant pressure," Jim Sammon, a spokesman for RICS Northern Ireland construction said.

"2012 will be an extremely challenging year, with construction work in Northern Ireland scarce and many local companies competing for work outside of Northern Ireland."