Construction starts steady

Construction starts in the three months to December were 2% down on a year ago and unchanged against the preceding three months, according to the latest Glenigan Index.

Residential starts were 13% lower than a year ago and 6% down on the preceding three months, while non-residential project starts were 8% higher than a year ago with growth driven by increases in industrial, office, retail, hotel and leisure, and health starts.

The value of work starting on site in the final quarter of 2018 was 2% lower than a year earlier and, on a seasonally adjusted basis, starts were unchanged on the previous three months.

Allan Wilén, Glenigan’s economics director, said: “Quieter conditions in the wider housing market appear to be restraining private housing project starts, with developers focusing on building out existing sites.

“Political and economic uncertainties are expected to continue to depress project starts in the near term, but the recent extension of Help to Buy to 2023 should help support project starts as the UK economic outlook becomes clearer.

“In contrast, social housing starts have recovered, rising by 16% against the three months to September to stand 11% up on a year ago.”

Regionally, growth in project starts was confined to the east of England, north east, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber, which saw increases of 41%, 13%, 45% and 31% respectively against a year ago.

Starts in Northern Ireland, the south east and Wales were slightly weaker while other parts of the UK all saw a double digit decline in project starts.